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A forensic accountant can track down hidden assets

The higher your net worth and the more assets you have, the more likely it is that some marital assets are not out on the table prior to the property division phase of your divorce.

If you sense that your spouse is hiding marital property in one way or another, you may need the help of a forensic accountant to bring that property to light.

Common hiding places

Spouses who are hiding marital assets can be very creative. In addition to salting cash away in an offshore account, there may be funds in a custodial account that your spouse opened in the name of your child. There could also be fake payments. Your spouse could issue checks to a friend, family member or new romantic interest for safekeeping with the plan for that person to return the funds after your divorce is final. Have there been any new purchases? Your soon-to-be ex could put cash into expensive items like artwork or watches, then underreport the value of the objects.

The role of a forensic accountant

Forensic accountants are certified public accountants who specialize in finding irregularities through the examination of business and tax records. They find evidence of fraud, embezzlement and other financial misdeeds for civil, state and federal cases. These professionals may work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the United States Secret Service, but they can also work in corporations as well as public accounting firms.

Professional help

In most marriages, one partner is usually more sophisticated than the other in terms of financial matters, and therefore more knowledgeable about hiding assets. It could be as simple as asking to have a company bonus or raise delayed until the divorce is final. If your spouse is self-employed, it might mean delaying the signing of a lucrative business contract so that the proceeds would not have to be shared with you. If you suspect that there are more marital assets than your spouse is reporting, share your concerns with your attorney. 

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