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The Use of Experts in High Asset Divorce Cases

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Along with enlisting the services of a family lawyer, individuals in divorce litigation cases, especially those with higher financial stakes, may seek additional guidance from other professionals. The use of experts in high asset divorce cases can ensure each spouse receives proper financial compensation. Additionally, it can help the Court determine the appropriate division of debts and property. Furthermore, it helps to determine other aspects of the case, such as calculating alimony and child support payments. While there are a variety of experts that can be used throughout the case, the following are the most common.

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)/Certified Financial Planners (CFAs)

Individuals and family lawyers will often hire CPAs and CFAs as experts in high asset divorce cases. They assist spouses when it comes to collecting, preparing and reviewing financial information and forms required by the court.

Additionally, CPAs and CFAs analyze other financial matters and help to:

  • Accurately calculate spousal income and expenses
  • Identify and value both marital and non-marital property
  • Calculate child support payments
  • Calculate gains/losses on various types of investment accounts, in an effort to help identify dissipation of assets or lost income due to improper withdrawals by one spouse

Real Estate and Farm Appraisers

Another expert used often in complex divorce cases is an appraiser. These experts provide residential and commercial real estate appraisals. Those needing to value a farming operation will also employ appraisers. Individuals who conduct real estate and farm appraisals help to accurately define and identify the worth of property owned by one or both spouses.

Before dividing any estate in a high asset divorce case, spouses need to know it’s worth. The Court needs to know as well. In fact, in many situations, a divorce will not be allowed by a judge until the parties have indicated that every asset has been accounted for and divided.

Business Valuations

Nearly every business has a value, no matter how big or small. If one or both spouses involved in a high-value divorce own, or even partially own a business, the value of that business interest is something that has to be determined and divided by the Court. Sometimes, the parties are able to agree on a value of a business. Other times, this is in dispute and experts must be employed as part of the discovery process.

During a business valuation, an expert will examine a business’ financial documents, tax returns, asset holdings, and liabilities, and determine how much it is worth based on specific factors. These factors can vary significantly depending on the nature of the business. For example, a business that provides a professional service, such as a medical practice, will be valued differently than a business that relies on the sale of goods. 

While a spouse may feel comfortable enough to perform a valuation on their own, an expert’s job is to ensure no factor is overlooked, under/overvalued, or concealed from the other spouse.

Vocational Experts

Vocational experts are professionals who provide an objective and professional assessment of a spouse’s earning potential. They do so by identifying the worth of in-demand skills associated with various careers.  As such, in some ways, their investigations can prove valuable in a divorce case.

High asset divorce cases involving spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, frequently use vocational experts. Here, the valuation of income determines one spouse’s ability to earn an income, especially if he or she has been out of the work force for a period of time. Alternatively, in some cases a spouse may try to undervalue or decrease their earnings in order to lower the amount of support they may have to pay to their spouse post-divorce. Thus, vocational experts help ensure everyone receives fair compensation in these cases.

Private Investigators

Finally, one commonly used resource is that of a private investigator. These highly-trained individuals seek, verify and analyze information, often times that the one party is trying to hide, which makes them incredibly useful when it comes to high asset divorce cases. Insurance companies, attorneys, and even litigants in a divorce case, will contract private investigators to work on cases and help uncover facts that will be pertinent to the pending case.

Similar to the other experts, private investigators uncover facts regarding income and other assets that may be intentionally (or unintentionally) hidden by a spouse. Family lawyers also often hire them to assist in cases where maintenance is at issue, particularly as it relates to allegations cohabitation.

Cohabitation, put simply, is when the spouse receiving, or trying to receive, maintenance lives with his or her significant other. Since it is a terminating event for maintenance, private investigators are often key in uncovering evidence. This evidence can then be used to prove a spouse is cohabitating with someone on a continuing basis. “Cohabitation” can include situations where two people don’t live together 100% of the time. A private investigator is essential in gathering evidence to support this.

When Should I Hire An Expert For My High Asset Divorce Case?

The use of a non-legal expert is not limited to the walls of a courtroom. In fact, experts are most widely used throughout the discovery process. Additionally, they can also be called to testify for depositions. Most importantly, you should remember that the higher the financial stakes in your divorce, the more complex your legal issues. Because of this, you need the trusted opinion of professionals. These professionals will ensure you receive fair and proper  result in your divorce case.

In conclusion, a skilled family lawyer will handle the legal aspects of your case and connect you with experts. These experts will then gather accurate information regarding you, your spouse and your financial assets. Contact Strieker Law Firm for answers to questions regarding your high asset divorce case.