In a divorce, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can calculate your net worth and your spouse's net worth. This helps your attorney provide bulletproof figures to the courts.
Look to the Department of Consumer Affairs in California for a list of accountants with experience in matrimonial law. Your attorney may be able to refer an accountant too. In fact, you may want to start with your attorney since he or she will be working closely with the accountant throughout your case. It’s likely the firm has a preferred list of CPAs.
Interview the CPA just as you would an attorney
Before hiring the CPA, ask these questions:
- Do you often work with divorce lawyers?
- When was the last time you went to court for a case? Do you go often?
- How do you think my case will go?
- What do your services cost?
Documents to provide to the CPA and your divorce lawyer
Once you've hired your CPA, it's then time to collect and make copies of all your financial paperwork. The following list covers the most commonly needed documents, but you should give your CPA and divorce lawyer all information that you believe will be helpful.
- Bank, credit-card, and investment account statements (including retirement accounts)
- Recent pay stub
- Tax returns for the last five years
- Any financial document relating to a business you or your spouse have an interest in
- Mortgage statements
- Telephone and other utility bills
- Record of all insurance policies
Other financial pros that may help you through a divorce
Your attorney may connect you with a forensic accountant, which is different than a CPA. Forensic accountants look to uncover hidden assets and inconsistencies between claims and financial records.
A certified financial planner (CFP) can assist you during and after a divorce by helping you understand your financial needs. A CFP also advises you on choices that allow you to reach your financial goals, e.g., budgeting, retirement planning, etc. Look to the Institute of Certified Financial Planners for a list of CFPs in your area.
A Certified Divorce Planner (CDP) – also a CFP or a CPA – will look at your financial situation during divorce and apply it to the long term. CDPs do receive a special kind of training in tax, property division, and other divorce related issues. Both the Association of Divorce Financial Planners and Institute for Certified Divorce Planners have great resources when looking for a CDP.