I recently spoke with a potential client. She was on her second family law attorney. Her divorce forensic CPA already charged her $5,000. He wanted another $5,000 to finish the task. It was a Moore-Marsden calculation. He hadn’t produced anything. She needed him to trace all her separate property funds for real estate she purchased during marriage. It was under her name. The tracing only involved two sources. But there were multiple bank accounts. The first was her separate property funds before marriage. The second was her income during marriage from her other separate property. Her husband claimed that the subject property was community property. She had the burden to prove that is was hers. She provided me with key documents. I analyzed them for an hour. Afterwards, I spoke to her for 1.5 hours. I quoted her a fixed fee. It was less than $5,000.
Same Moore-Marsden, Two Different Costs
How could two forensic accountants have hugely different costs for the same calculation? We could have different hourly rates. Her forensic CPA’s hourly rate was less than mine. So his fees should not be double mine. We could have different approaches. Her forensic accountant wanted too much information. The amount of information often required by a forensic CPA is subjective. You only need relevant information to be persuasive. You do not need unnecessary information. He required all the deposit slips. Most of the deposits were her wages. Her wages were community property. It was undisputed. His approach was from the both sides of the coin: The deposits and withdrawals. He should have just traced the withdrawals from her wages that were used for the subject property. If her wages were not used for the subject property, then tracing the deposits would’ve been irrelevant and costly.
Inefficiencies in a Moore-Marsden Calculation
Litigation is expensive. It will be more expensive when you are inefficient. You need to make an honest investment in time and thought to be efficient. I invested 2.5 hours with my potential client. I quoted her a fixed fee. Since litigation is unpredictable, I rarely quote fixed fees. I believe that this was a straightforward Moore-Marsden calculation. It only required the proper tracing approach. I also believe her forensic accountant may not have made the honest investment. He required all the deposit slips. So he may have placed an equal importance on the deposits and withdrawals. But not everything is equally important. Despite my investment, I suggested that she finish with her forensic CPA. I also suggested that she speak to other forensic accountants.
If you need an efficient Moore-Marsden expert witness in Orange County or Los Angeles County, then please call Greg Raffaele at (949) 264-1455 for a free one-hour telephone consultation.