In California Family Law, tracing hidden assets tracing cannot be used to overcome presumptions arising from form of title, but it can be used to rebut the community property presumption that applies to property that is not titled.  It can also be used to establish significant reimbursement rights, which can be a big issue in a divorce.

At minimum, tracing will require testimony from the client.  This is critical to prove the source of the funds that are in question as well as how those funds were used.  The spouse will also have to testify that:  a) he or she intended to acquire a separate interest with those funds; and, b) that that intention was communicated to the other spouse.

If the involved parties have weaved a complicated financial web, an accountant or forensic expert should be brought in to help the attorney determine exactly what belongs to whom.  An expert can sift through the myriad of transactions and provide the court with a point-by-point history of all the transactions involved between the parties.

There are two basic types of “summaries” that an expert might present to a court:  summary charts of evidence produced at trial and summaries of voluminous records.  The case of tracing hidden assets, requires the witness to lay a foundation.  Testimony is then required to establish that each of the line items in the summary be based on other admissible evidence, such as cancelled checks or bank statements.  And most importantly, the summary and related testimony must save time for the court.

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