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Divorce Hot Spots – 1 March 2013

Member: Nifa

As the top ten hotspots for divorce in the UK are named, divorcing couples should ensure that they have the number of a good forensic accountant in case their current other half tries to hide any of the joint assets to which they are entitled.  Unfortunately, with around 42 per cent of marriages in the UK ending in the divorce courts, couples that start off with white lace and promises may well find themselves ending up with acrimony and painstaking scrutiny of accounts.

Forensic accounting is the specialty practice area of investigating details of financial issues which can then be used in negotiations or in court. For divorce cases, this routinely involves valuing assets, tracing accounts, looking into business affairs and evaluating lifestyles, so those figures can be used in financial settlements.  The important document in the financial aspect of a divorce is called Form E, which is a full and frank disclosure of each partner’s finances.

It is a criminal offence to make a false declaration on a Form E but a surprising number of people try to ‘massage’ the figures either by omitting things from the form, putting in a lower valuation for an asset, perhaps for a business or overstating their liabilities.   A forensic accountant’s work begins when forms are exchanged simultaneously. A trained eye can spot inconsistencies by examining supporting documentation and areas of concern may start to emerge.

The survey that named the divorce hotspots was brought out in conjunction with advice from the Ministry of Justice to use mediation rather than ending up in a courtroom battle.  As with most situations, if in doubt, ask for help and a forensic accountant could be a divorcing person’s best friend.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 1 March 2013

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