"A new approach in dealing with family problems"

Financial Advice

In any divorce, financial matters are invariably a key issue to discuss and resolve between the parties. Independent financial advisers and accountants are able to play an active advisory role during the collaborative process to assist the client to achieve goals quickly and more cost effectively than conventional proceedings. 

Where the financial affairs of either party are relatively complex, where the parties own substantial assets or where one, or both, of the parties own or have an interest in a business, assistance is often sought from an accountant to advise on a range of matters including:

  • The value of a business;
  • Business liquidity;
  • Assessment of net income(s) of the parties;
  • Potential capital gains tax liabilities;

It is common for accountants to be instructed on a joint basis as a single joint expert, where they act independently of either party and follow instructions agreed jointly between the parties. However, even in this situation, the process is subject to litigation and is adversarial in nature. When acting as single joint expert, the accountant is not allowed to assist the parties or their advisers, and does not participate in framing the questions to be addressed by them. The accountant's role is simply to answer the questions and instructions raised and the accountant's report deals only with the matters on which he or she has been asked to express an opinion.

In the collaborative process, the accountant as a Financial Neutral becomes involved at a very early stage and takes a far more active role than is permitted in conventional proceedings. In addition to the traditional areas of expertise noted above, the accountant becomes available during meetings to answer questions from either party, can identify potential problems, can make suggestions and can offer potential solutions concerning a range of matters, which would typically include:

  • division of assets,
  • beneficial capital gains or income tax planning;
  • the tax impact of any proposed settlement (including transfer of assets between the parties); and
  • tax efficient investment;

Together with other financial neutrals, such as an Independent Financial Adviser, an accountant can help the parties and their advisers:

  • to arrive at a clear understanding of the value of the matrimonial assets and net income;
  • to assess the overall financial impact of any proposed settlement; and
  • where appropriate, to implement any changes that might be agreed between the parties.