Some family law attorneys are reluctant to retain forensic accountants in their cases. Money may be a factor, but sometimes the need for an outside expert is not clear. While law firms may have paralegals or attorneys on staff who are very knowledgeable about financial issues, the outside forensic accountant offers several advantages:
- Experience in financial investigations means the work can be completed quicker and more efficiently. The results are often presented better since experts present their results in court and are used to making things understandable for non-accountants.
- An outside expert can testify, while law firm personnel cannot. Even though the family lawyer might not intend for the case to go to trial, it is always a possibility, and therefore it pays to have a financial professional who could testify if necessary.
- An outside expert is generally perceived as more objective. Ethical forensic accountants attempt to be independent and objective in their opinions, which bolsters the credibility of the calculations.
- Forensic accountants have experience finding red flags and issues. Their analysis is often more thorough, and their ability to spot problems is often more developed. This can be invaluable for finding issues that were previously unknown.
Sometimes it seems like the numbers aren’t complicated and an expert witness isn’t required. But one of the most important things your forensic accountant may do is properly present the numbers. Non-experts don’t often know how to present the numbers in the best way. Someone who does fraud investigations and expert witness engagements all the time will likely have a better way of presenting the data.