The divorce process is almost always difficult and stressful. Distribution of assets is one of the most stressful and typically most emotional parts of divorce. The process can suddenly become much more difficult if your soon-to-be ex is attempting to hide assets. If you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets or money, you may need the services of a forensic accountant.
What Does Forensic Accounting Mean?
Forensic accountants are more than just very skilled accountants. They are part auditor and part investigator. The name “forensic” refers to their work product being utilized in court. The entire specialty is built on the premise of anticipated litigation. Forensic accountants are used in a variety of industries. Some of the ways they can help with cases include calculating damages and losses for breach of contract cases or providing an expert opinion on a business valuation in a merger or acquisition.
Potential Ways Spouses Hide Assets
You hope the person you married wouldn’t stoop so low as to hide assets; however, money can drive people to act in unscrupulous ways. Some situations where you may find out your spouse is hiding assets include:
- Creating fake debt
- Padding payroll
- Making large purchases with funds that were hidden away
- Hiding assets in a dummy corporation
In these particular situations, forensic accountants can use their experience and skill set to locate hidden bank accounts and assets that have not been disclosed. Expert fees connected to forensic accountants can be high, but if you’re dealing with a large asset portfolio, a forensic accountant can help keep your spouse from attempting to withhold money you’re legally entitled to.
The use of a forensic accountant is not necessarily limited to locating hidden assets. In any divorce with a high net worth, asset distribution can be extremely complex. Using a forensic accountant can help provide valuations of some assets that a judge might struggle to divide equitably. Some assets really need an appraisal in order to determine a value. Items like rare collectibles or antiquities fall under this category. Forensic accountants can also help place a value on assets that are located outside of South Carolina.
Asset Distribution in South Carolina
South Carolina is what’s called an “equitable distribution” state, which means assets are not distributed 50/50 like you traditionally see in states where community property is the standard. Instead, the judge divides assets in such a way that is a fair based on answers to questions that are designed to help a judge to learn more about the financial situation of both spouses. The idea behind “equitable distribution” is that it doesn’t have to be equal, it just needs to be fair.
Retaining a South Carolina Divorce Attorney
If you are in the middle of a complex divorce or you’re preparing to file for divorce, retaining a skilled South Carolina divorce attorney can help ensure you and your assets are protected. The team of attorneys at Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC have years of experience handling a variety of family law matters, including complex divorces with high net worth.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.