While the divorce process is never pleasant, it is important that you receive the settlement that you are entitled to. Fortunately, the digital world that we live in today makes it possible for forensic accountants to pore through thousands of documents in order to paint an accurate financial picture. And this ability is invaluable—as a sneaky husband or wife could easily conceal tens of thousands of dollars worth of assets (if not more.) 50 years ago, it may have been impossible to uncover the truth—but that is no longer the case!
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Suspicious spouses might dig around in their partners’ Web-surfing history and social networks to find traces of hidden bank accounts and business deals. They might install software on home computers that records every keystroke their spouses make—whether it’s secret stock trades or cash transfers to paramours—and use smartphone and GPS tools to show when they’ve been making sneaky withdrawals from ATMs.
Meanwhile, divorce lawyers and forensic experts are employing new strategies of their own. Instead of having to sift through reams of paper records to find irregularities, they’re now able to use advanced search tools to analyze thousands of digital bank statements, credit-card bills and other files in the blink of an eye.
“While in the past a paper trail might be hidden by a second set of books or the shredding of documents, the trail left by files on a computer is etched onto a hard drive somewhere, just waiting to be discovered,” says Ken Altshuler, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Is it legal for spouses to use these methods to find electronic evidence? That’s another matter entirely. The law is still evolving, and there are still gray areas about what practices are acceptable.
It’s legal, for instance, to do a Google search on a spouse. But it’s potentially illegal to hack into a spouse’s personal password-protected smartphone or Facebook page, or to secretly install a GPS in their car or to install keystroke monitors on somebody’s computer.
There are also gray areas about what’s admissible in court—it can vary not only from state to state but also from court to court within a state. Generally, though, information that is obtained illegally is inadmissible in court.
Even if spouses can’t use the information in court, the lawyers say, the knowledge empowers them in negotiations. And once they know about the assets, they sometimes can look for legal ways to ferret out the same information.
If you are considering or going through the divorce process, here’s the bottom line: You can’t afford to take your spouse or his/her attorneys at their word. It’s essential that you hire a qualified forensic accountant in order to uncover the truth. In today’s digital world, this decision can dramatically increase the size of your settlement.
The team at Kane Forensic is standing by to help you through this difficult time. Give us a call today and let us help you receive the divorce settlement that you deserve.