Hingham, MA family law attorney Jason V. Owens explains how forensic accounting is used to calculate support and alimony.
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One of the issues that we face in child support and alimony cases is that, in Massachusetts and in many other states, alimony and child support are based on the gross income, the pre-tax income of the parties. This can be complicated in cases involving self-employed individuals or individuals who own income-generating property like real estate developers in which there are real questions about what their income is for support purposes. So one of the things that we’ll do is use a forensic accountant or a financial expert to review the individual’s income and earnings and make a determination of what they earn so we can analyze and determine what an appropriate support order is going to be.
One of the considerations that we have to take into account when deciding whether or not a client wants a forensic expert for a support case is how much the client is in a position to spend on that particular issue. Unlike a division of assets in a divorce, support tends to be a more limited environment and parties have to choose if they’re going to be able to afford that. But in many cases, a forensic expert who’s just focusing on income can be obtained for a lower cost than a full-blown valuation for a divorce in some of the more complex things that we see.
So one of the important roles that a forensic accountant can play in a case involving alimony and child support is that they serve as both an expert witness and they author a report that can be used in court, submitted to a judge and give the judge a good feel for what an individual earns, and from there, we can calculate the amount of child support or alimony based on the income.