Understanding Financials for Property Settlements with Thomas Caldow

Friday November 3, 2017

Thomas Caldow is a Manager in Forensic Consulting at Grant Thorton. 

Grant Thornton is one of the world's leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. These firms help dynamic organisations unlock their potential for growth by providing meaningful, forward looking advice. Proactive teams, led by approachable partners in these firms, use insights, experience and instinct to understand complex issues for privately owned, publicly listed and public sector clients and help them to find solutions. Grant Thornton Australia has more than 1,200 people working in offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney and offices in over 130 countries across the world. Currently, Grant Thornton is the Platinum Sponsor of The Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia.

He joined Jane Wily of Legalwise Seminars to discuss issues about Family Law.

You can find the full Q&A below.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, (experience, your practice, what you’re working on. etc)

Since commencing my professional career in July 2010, I have practiced solely in the Forensic Accounting area specialising in business valuations for matrimonial property settlements and the assessment of loss and damages in commercial litigation matters. I have assisted in matters in a variety of jurisdictions including the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court. I became a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) in 2015 and am currently undertaking the CAANZ Business Valuation Specialisation.

From your experience, what more can expert accountants in family law do to assist in getting the best outcome for your client?

Financial matters in family law are always a contentious issue, often due to circumstances whereby one party has largely been responsible for the financial affairs of the parties, leaving one party potentially unaware of their combined financial position. To further exacerbate this, the parties have often had the same accounting representation, leaving one party ultimately unrepresented from an accounting point of view upon settlement. At Grant Thornton, we have the ability to assist in not only the valuation of businesses which the parties operate as a Single Expert (or a critique of another Single Expert’s report as a Shadow Expert), but to assist in providing taxation advice to the ‘non-financial’ spouse to assist them in achieving the best possible outcome for that upon settlement. This advice could assist in minimising any unwanted tax liabilities they may otherwise have been received upon settlement and allow the client to set up their financial affairs for the future. Accountants should be consulted by family lawyers along the entire process in effecting a financial settlement (not just at the end) and when acting for the ‘non-financial’ spouse - you should always seek independent advice.

Your topic focuses on ‘Understanding Financials for Property Settlements. Why is it important for practitioners to attend your session? Where in the past have you seen practitioner make mistakes that will be address in this seminar.

It is important for practitioners to not only understand financial statements, but to be aware of the ‘red flags’ which may be contained within financial statements so that they can be aware of whether an expert is required, and the right questions to ask. For example, the ability to recognise that although the Family Trust may report net assets of a nominal amount, say $10, the large liability of the Family Trust to the Husband of $250,000 would be an asset in his hands, and therefore if you net off the asset receivable in the Husband’s hands and the liability of the Family Trust, the actual value of the Family Trust to the Parties is $250,010.

You can hear more from Thomas Caldow at the Family Law: the Practical 'How To' seminar, being held on Friday 17 November Stamford Plaza, Adelaide Hotel.


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