Why might we need a forensic accountant in a collaborative case?

May 31, 2018 by Fiona Ryans

The collaborative law approach encourages parties to communicate openly with honesty and transparency. When complex assets are required to be valued in order to establish the full extent of the marital assets, the involvement of a forensic accountant can be misjudged and potentially met with resistance as a result.

It is not only the contentious cases where an accurate valuation is required.

A common misconception exists that where forensic experts are instructed, they are investigating wrongdoing or misconduct in respect of individuals. This infers a degree of suspicion and mistrust, where parties may feel targeted and subject to criticism, which is not in the spirit of the collaborative process.

The definition of forensic is ‘for use in a Court of Law’ and as valuation specialists, forensic accountants are well placed to provide expert, third party valuations of assets to swiftly achieve a fair settlement for both parties in a matrimonial matter or any Legal proceedings.

As collaborative lawyers assist both parties to reach a fair settlement, forensic accountants can also be instrumental in this process, and will communicate with both individuals regarding any valuation aspects or tax implications of asset transfers which may impact on settlement.

Forensic experts are experienced in liaising with multiple parties and other professionals to assist in achieving a fair settlement, by performing a full review of all matrimonial finances and business interests, potentially identifying assets which are not apparent at face value.

A non-accounting expert would not have the required skillset to accurately value complex business interests and financial investments, resulting in both parties to the matrimonial settlement being unfairly prejudiced as a result of the marital assets being misstated.

The value of a business and shareholdings cannot be readily quantified from solely reviewing the financial statements, and where forensic advice is not taken, the risk exists that outdated, incomplete information is used as a basis for settlement, which does not fairly represent the interests of both parties and their needs.

Maria McKenna is an Associate member of the Academy of Experts, and is experienced in family law cases. If you wish to discuss further or arrange a free consultation, please contact Maria on 0191 285 0321 or maria.mckenna@taitwalker.co.uk.