Is a Financial Expert Necessary in My Divorce?
When a married couple decides to end the marriage, the divorce that follows must suitably divide the marital assets and debts. If you have worked hard to amass the assets you have, you undoubtedly want to hold onto them. To do so, you may need to enlist the assistance of a financial expert to help sort through the complex financial issues related to the division of your marital assets and debts during your divorce. Fort Worth divorce attorney Jon Boyd explains why a financial expert might be necessary in your divorce.
What Is a “Financial Expert?”
If you have never needed a “financial expert,” you may wonder exactly what defines someone as such. One of the most commonly used financial experts in divorce proceedings is a forensic accountant. A forensic accountant utilizes accounting, auditing and investigative skills to conduct an examination into the finances of an individual or business and then creates an analysis to be used in legal proceedings. A forensic accountant reads between the lines to try and determine what was really happening in financial transactions. You might also need an asset and/or business valuation expert. If the value of marital assets, including a business, are in dispute, an expert can provide a detailed analysis using methods accepted within the industry to bolster your claim regarding the value of the assets or business.
When Can a Financial Expert Help?
A reputable and experienced divorce attorney should be familiar with basic financial concepts and issues that arise during the course of a routine divorce. Not all divorces are routine though. When significant and/or complex marital assets are involved or when a business is part of the divorce, a financial expert may be needed to perform a variety of tasks, such as:
Value marital assets
Provide an opinion regarding the classification of an asset as separate or marital property
Value a business
Discover and value hidden assets
Trace funds or investments to determine their origin
Assist with discovery
Analyze financial statements
Testify as an expert witness at trial
How Can a Financial Expert Help?
Along with valuing assets and analyzing financial documents, a financial expert can be an important part of the litigation team when it comes to the discovery process. An expert can help you identify and request specific documents that may be favorable to your position. That same expert can evaluate those documents and determine if additional documents may exist and should be subpoenaed as well as help your attorney draft questions for the opposing party to answer relating to those documents or the transactions therein. Finally, your financial expert can help summarize the information obtained during the discovery process in a presentable format that can be used during mediation or settlement negotiations. The stronger your case is at this point in the litigation, the more likely you will be to avoid a lengthy and costly trial.
How Can a Financial Expert Help Me if My Case Goes to Trial?
Ideally, your divorce will be settled without the need to go through a trial; however, sometimes a trial cannot be avoided. If your case does end up going to trial, preparation is the key to success. The days, weeks, and months leading up to your trial date will be spent preparing to present your case. Part of that preparation may include expert witnesses. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure govern the procedures that must be used if a party plans to rely on expert witness testimony at trial. Specifically, the identity and qualifications of that expert must be discovered to the apposing party well in advance of the trial and the opposing party must have the opportunity to depose your expert prior to the trial.
The impact an expert witness can have at trial is significant. In fact, the right expert witness can determine the outcome of a trial. For example, if your financial expert testifies that your spouse attempted to hide assets that your expert was able to discover, it will undoubtedly paint your spouse in an unfavorable light in the eyes of the court. When there are significant financial issues in a divorce, the earlier you bring a financial expert onboard the higher your odds are of prevailing in the litigation.
Contact a Fort Worth Divorce Attorney
If you are contemplating divorce and you foresee the likelihood of financial disputes within that divorce, contact an experienced Fort Worth divorce attorney right away at Boyd Family Law to schedule your appointment today.