When you are going through a divorce, there are usually financial issues involved. These can include spousal maintenance (alimony), child support, business valuations, separate property claims, waste claims and many, many more. The Family Law Divorce Accountant can assist you in quantifying the financial issues and what monies are at stake. Often, there are many pieces to the financial issues, that when put together, can result in larger than expected amounts. By working with a Family Law Accountant, you will be able to see the whole financial picture of what is involved in your divorce which will enable you to hopefully settle your case. However, if you aren’t able to settle, the Family Law Accountant will be prepared to testify at trial on your behalf.
Experience, experience, experience. I can’t stress how important it is to find a Family Law Accountant with experience. There are many credentials, degrees, licenses and alphabet soup like initials out there nowadays. While these are not to be ignored, look beyond these and review a person’s curriculum vitae and ask yourself the following questions:
Remember, in the world of accounting, Family Law Accounting is a very specialized piece and requires specialized knowledge. Think of it this way: if you fell and broke your arm and required surgery would you go to a general practitioner, heart specialist, or orthopedic surgeon? There are many excellent accountants in the world, but you need to find one that specializes in Family Law Accounting
I can analyze your financial situation, prepare schedules to assist in educating you on the entire financial picture related to your divorce, and if required, testify at trial. However, a lot more goes into my assignment than just that.
There are certain tasks that I can’t perform, but can assist you or your attorney if possible. For example, I can’t prepare or issue subpoenas, although I can help with identifying documents that may need subpoenaed. I can’t prepare legal forms, but again, I can help provide financial information that will go into those forms. One thing that I am often asked is if I can do is a search for hidden assets or find hidden bank accounts. If my review of the accounting records indicates that there is nefarious activity going on by your spouse, I will immediately notify your attorney or you so these issues can be addressed, but I can’t do any type of internet searches, call banks or other actions like that.
After I have reviewed basic documents and discussed the assignment with you and your attorney, I can provide a ballpark estimate of what I believe the cost may be. However, you need to keep in mind that the time it takes me to complete my assignment depends on various factors such as the completeness of documents provided, the nature of the assignment, whether or not the case ends up in trial and most importantly, does the assignment change due to new issues that arise during the course of my initial work. With all of these factors in play, it is impossible to provide anything other than an estimate.
Every case is different and depends on the assignment as well as the availability of records. Many cases are fluid and assignments change as they progress which will change timing. What I can say is that when I am provided with deadlines such as Court dates, settlement conferences or required filings, my work is completed in a timely manner.
Keep in mind that I am working on more than one case at any given time. I may not be working on your case at a specific time, but it is definitely not forgotten.
No, I do not.
As a licensed CPA, I am prohibited from working on litigation related cases on a contingency fee basis.
I bill on an hourly basis. Based on the work that is being performed and who in my office is doing the work, the rates vary. I will gladly provide a billing rate schedule on request.
Billing statements are usually sent out at the end of each month. When I am preparing formal reports and/or being requested to testify at trial, my bills need to be paid in full before I issue my report or appear in Court.
I will keep your retainer until your case is concluded. At that time, I will either apply it against your final bill or refund it to you. I do NOT have a non-refundable retainer policy.
There is a definite difference in these distinctions, but they have no impact on the work that I perform. As an expert, I will be designated as such to the opposing side when your attorney feels it is appropriate. Experts do NOT have any expectations of privilege with their clients and/or attorneys. What that means is that if I am deposed or am testifying in Court, all of my notes, files and recollections of conversations and meeting are subject to questioning by the opposing side. In other words, an expert is an open book.
A consultant is not a designated witness and their files are usually privileged. Consultants can usually not be deposed nor can they have their files subpoenaed. However, a consultant can’t testify at trial either.
However, very often I will start out as a consultant, then be switched to an expert so I can issue Court reports and testify. It is very important to know that if I am originally designated as a consultant, then switched to an expert, any privileges that did exist are now gone, going all of the way back to the first day I was retained as a consultant.
I refer to these types of discussions as “cocktail talk”. You’re at a party talking about your divorce and your friends start telling you what happened in their divorce and that isn’t what is happening in your divorce. What should I do?
First and foremost, you need to remember that no two divorces are the same. Every case has its own unique sets of facts and circumstances. You can’t compare your divorce to anyone else’s divorce. Many people like to brag about what they received in their divorce, but they also conveniently leave out the things that they didn’t like. Just because your neighbor is getting more spousal maintenance than you might end up with, doesn’t mean that they ended up better than you may end up. Please don’t panic when you start hearing war stories about other peoples’ divorces...just smile and nod your head.