Your Silicon Valley Power Duo: Understanding the Relationship Between Attorneys and Forensic Accountants in Divorce

by | Mar 21, 2024 | Financial Assets

The division of assets in a divorce can have lasting repercussions for both parties, which is why it so frequently becomes one of the most contentious parts of dissolving a marriage. Partners often have competing views on what each is entitled to, and in situations where a business, real estate investments, or complex assets are at stake, it may be difficult to obtain a clear picture of marital assets versus separate property. To complicate the situation further, one partner may attempt to tip the financial scales in their own favor through underhanded means such as hiding assets, undervaluing assets, or falsifying debt.


Hiring a forensic accountant—a skilled professional with a combination of financial and investigative expertise—is necessary in such cases to cut through the confusion and/or deliberate deceptions to obtain clarity and ensure that each party receives their fair share of marital assets. However, they do not perform that work in isolation. At Hoover Krepelka, we understand when a forensic accountant is necessary to complement the work we do on our clients’ behalf, how to best employ their expertise, and what qualities make a forensic accountant most effective in a divorce case.



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How Does a Forensic Accountant Work with a Family Law Attorney?

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A family law attorney handles the procedural aspects of filing for divorce, as well as advising their client on their legal rights and negotiating on their behalf in matters of asset division, spousal support, and child support and custody. It is often the attorney who is in the best position to judge when the assistance of a forensic accountant is in the client’s best interest, due to the complexity of the financial issues involved or when financial fraud is suspected. A fair division of assets is only possible when the true value of marital assets and income is understood, so an attorney working with incomplete information is at a serious disadvantage in advocating for their client’s rights.


The forensic accountant is brought in to independently investigate the couple’s financial records to, in effect, tell the story of what is going on with a couple’s finances. This can include following the history of assets that started as separate property and became commingled with community property, flagging discrepancies that may indicate hidden assets or misappropriated funds, and producing accurate valuations of tangible assets and business interests. They may also examine the couple’s standard of living during the marriage, analyzing income, spending habits, and other information to estimate what would be required to maintain that standard of living post-divorce.


Where a forensic accountant’s efforts work synergistically with an attorney’s is in guiding discovery. During their investigation, they may find transactions that hint at the existence of previously undisclosed accounts or properties for which no information has been provided, or other financial activity or patterns that stand out as anomalies. The attorney can use those findings to pursue written requests for further information (known as interrogatories), oral depositions, or requests for inspection to follow up on those leads. While a forensic accountant can only examine the records provided to them and publicly available information, the attorney is in a position to obtain additional records and testimony that may be vital to the case.


Communicating the Story Behind the Numbers

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A forensic accountant holds specific degrees and professional certifications that attest to their financial and investigational expertise, but that forms only part of the skill set they need to be effective in a divorce case. In addition to being able to connect the dots between financial data points to create a coherent “big picture” perspective, they must be able to communicate their findings clearly, in plain language accessible to nonexperts. Their focus is on money, but the objective of their work is to cut through the confusion—deliberate or not—that can prevail in complicated financial situations and provide essential insight to guide the court’s decision-making.


Not all forensic accountants specialize in family law matters, and even fewer have in-court experience. Unfortunately, selecting a forensic accountant who lacks the relevant skills and experience risks spending money on an investigation and testimony that fail to achieve the desired ends.


Hiring a Forensic Accountant


At Hoover Krepelka, we understand the importance of enlisting forensic accountants who can be effective in a courtroom. We work exclusively with forensic accountants who not only have impeccable professional qualifications, but who also have a background of court experience that makes them credible, authoritative expert witnesses when called on.


As the largest law firm specializing in family law in the Silicon Valley, Hoover Krepelka has a firmly established reputation of providing exceptional service to our clients. The forensic accountants we work with know we are a trusted partner that can be relied on to support their work and employ their findings to produce a fair outcome. Likewise, our clients know that the professionals we call in to support their case will always be of the highest caliber.


Protecting Your Financial Future in Silicon Valley


If you’re facing a divorce involving complex property division or the possibility of financial fraud, you can rely on the expert attorneys at Hoover Krepelka, the largest family law firm in Silicon Valley, to vigorously pursue the truth and fight for your interests. We won’t hesitate to bring in the qualified professionals necessary to build the strongest possible case. To schedule a consultation, fill out the form below today.

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*The above is not meant to be legal advice, and every case is different. Feel free to reach out to us at Hoover Krepelka, LLP, if you have any questions. Information contained in this content and website should not be relied on as legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice on your specific situation. 

Visiting this site or relying on information gleaned from the site does not create an attorney-client relationship. The content on this website is the property of Hoover Krepelka, LLP and may not be used without the written consent thereof.


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