If you think your spouse is attempting to hide assets, what should you do?

Posted in Divorce.

If you think Your spouse is attempting to hide assets, what should you do?

The most important thing is to act, and become somewhat of a detective.  You should immediately start to gather documents, such as bank and brokerage statements, tax returns, escrow statements, even credit card and other loan statements, all of which will show the pattern of income and expenses.

You should particularly be cognizant of documents that used to come to the home, but no longer do.  For example, are statements from stock accounts now being diverted to an office, or post office box?   Where are the bank statements and cancelled checks?   Normally, diversion of these documents occurs gradually.   Also, you should be suspicious if the balance in the joint checking accounts is gradually diminishing, which may show that funds are being diverted to another account.

Are there any legal ways for a person to hide assets during his/her divorce?

There are no legal ways to hide assets.  Most states require each spouse to fully disclose, often under penalty of perjury, all of the marital assets and liabilities. Willful non-disclosure can be punished. However, the punishment only occurs if the non-disclosed assets are found and brought to the court’s attention. To the extent the assets are successfully hidden and not found, little, if anything is ever done.

A survey by British online bank Cahoot.com found that about 75% of women admitted to hiding money, compared with 53% of men.  It’s about the fact that both genders hide money from their mates, and how you can tell, and when you should care, if it happens to be your partner.

You may have difficulty finding items or getting the proof you need to show your spouse is hiding assets.  Formal discovery procedures through litigation may help.  For instance, you could take the deposition (legal interview) of your spouse’s boss or payroll supervisor.  But you may also need to hire a forensic accountant or a private investigator.  A forensic accountant is an accountant who is trained to look into accounting practices in order to gather evidence that can be used in court.   Usually an attorney can refer you to these specialists.

If you suspect that your spouse may attempt to hide assets, it’s best to start investigating your household and business finances before initiating divorce proceedings.  Keep copies of important documents such as tax returns, bank account statements, and pay stubs outside the home if you’re still living with your spouse or partner.

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  3. Warning: is your spouse hiding money during your divorce?
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  5. Top 5 things to do if you are separating