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Guest Post :: How Staff CPA’s Can Impact Family Law Litigation

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Jul 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

Family law encompasses a wide range of legal issues involving marriages, civil unions, adoptions, surrogacy, divorce, visitation rights and more. In most family law cases, the financial and personal needs of each member of the family must be addressed, and every situation varies a great deal depending on the number of dependents, types of assets and business incomes. With the inclusion of these financially related aspects, a family law attorney can naturally benefit from having a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) on staff. A well-qualified CPA will be able to assist a client in achieving the best possible financial outcome as they are experts in accounting.

Impact for Entire Families

In family law litigation, each member of the family needs to be considered in both the short and long term. For instance, prenuptial agreements often include provisions for dependents as well as spouses. Agreements regarding dependents do not only include direct financial allocation, but also choices regarding educational options that may require financial planning. Similarly involved decisions arise in divorce situations. Working with a family law attorney, a CPA can provide grounded, clear and objective advice on all aspects financial planning for dependents, which effects long term financial standings for the better.

Finances and Investments

In the best lawyer-client relationships, the client feels confident that the lawyer has presented all the information necessary to make informed decisions. The client should also feel that the lawyer is telling the truth even if it is not easy to hear. When negotiating agreements, including those needed during divorce (such as business valuations, investment prospects, property values and taxation related to property), the monetary values may not meet expectations nor is this information always presented with clarity. The combined efforts of a family lawyer and a CPA can help a client feel confident of asset values and financial projections.

A Second Opinion

If the family agreement or dispute involves disbursement of finances from stock options, property in an area of fluctuating values or a business with high levels of cash flow, the second opinion of a CPA can be essential in creating financial settlements. Yes, a family attorney alone can attempt this, however this is not the skill set that is conventionally taught during law school. Even though any given family attorney may have all the right intentions and drive to best satisfy their clients and their financial needs, accounting is simply not their area of expertise. CPA's however, as a result of obtaining licensure by sitting for and successfully passing each section of the uniform CPA exam are required to study annual taxation law which can affect large assets to a great extent. Also, the assets may be dispersed to several family members, and this multiplies the financial considerations being made. Having distinct monetary sources carefully weighed, assessed and allocated properly can require more than one set of expert skills.

The Best Attorney and CPA

The best family law attorney is one who has significant experience, knowledge about financial issues, a good reputation with both clients and fellow attorneys, and excellent people skills. Clients are satisfied when the attorney knows how to be an expert while maintaining the ability to listen and respond to new information constructively. The client should feel that all major points have been disclosed and the legal strategy addresses each point in a feasible way.

Likewise, knowing how to hire the best CPA for your situation involves both a professional and personal level of dedication through research and assessment. At the time when a client is researching family attorneys, this is also an optimum opportunity to research their staff accountants to determine their fit for particular family matters.

This Guest Post was provided by Grant Webb of Bisk Education, and we thank him for providing it for the benefit of our readers.

About the Author

J. Benjamin Stevens

Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Ben is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocates. He is one of only four attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. To schedule a consultation with Ben Stevens call (864) 598-9172.

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