Deciding your family values

Detailed analysis of complex financial affairs are a major part of the process for any
lawyer specialising in divorce settlements involving corporate and other
business structures. An intimate knowledge of accounting information, company
and partnership law and taxation issues are a must if a party is to receive
full value in their settlement for business assets or the business person in
the relationship is to preserve their wealth so far as is possible.

Courts are always loathe to force upon parties the cost of accounting expertise and
will look for efficiency measures where possible. As a first port of call this
might be using the services of the existing accountant to the business for an
estimate as to the values of shareholdings or a share in a partnership,
combined with a comment on liquidity. However it is often the case that the
non-business spouse will be suspicious as to bias and the services of an
independent accountant may be required. This accountant will be a single joint
expert, based upon an agreed joint letter of instruction prepared by the
relevant solicitor. He/she will be responsible to the court for his or her findings and may be required to
justify those findings to the court. The parties are usually responsible forhis/her fee on a 50/50 basis.

This is not to say that the parties should not at some stage engage the services of
their own independent forensic accountant, whose function might be to analyse
the financial complexities of the case, review financial disclosure, prepare
questions for the opposing party, comment upon the single joint expert’s
findings, explain liquidity options and assess taxation issues. The right
specialist will have access to relevant data, not freely available to the
general public or at least, not obvious to source for the general public, all
of which will help to build a case as to the business spouse’s financial position.

Valuing a business in challenging times can be extremely complex. The economic downturn
means that recent historical data may show a decrease in profitability for what
has previously been a thriving business and forecasting future performance with
so much uncertainty is a minefield. Forensic accountants, whether instructed on
a single joint expert or partisan basis must get to the heart of the business,
understand its marketplace, the key figures within the business and their roles
and predict future profitability. Their clear, concise findings should
compliment the business skills of the experienced family lawyer. Such skills
come with hard-work, time and experience.

Solicitors Ipswich Suffolk – for more information on our range of legal services, please contact us