Divorce can be messy. If you are barely speaking to your spouse after filing, your emotions and theirs likely are on alert anytime you interact with each other. Divorce also can be complex, especially if you and your spouse have a complicated financial portfolio, with lots of different assets in different places. In fact, your property division may be complex enough that your spouse may try to hide some of those assets from the court.
But how do you know if that’s happening? And what can you do about it?
Signs a spouse is hiding assets
Some of the signs your spouse may be hiding assets in your divorce include the following:
- Bank and financial statements no longer are arriving at the marital home.
- Recreational vehicles or expensive jewelry or technology items are missing, perhaps even sold quickly and quietly with no paper trail as to their worth.
- Your spouse decides to sell other assets at a much lower value than they are worth, before the divorce is final.
- If your spouse owns a business, suddenly he or she hires new employees without the profit to support their wages.
- Your spouse hides large assets in off-shore bank accounts or opens a secret safety deposit box to store hidden assets.
How to discover hidden assets
One way to discover hidden assets is to make sure you have access to all you and your spouse’s financial records. You’ll need to watch those accounts closely after filing for divorce to notice if somehow large amounts of money are missing for no reason.
You also should keep tabs on any expensive items in your home or at vacation or rental properties, having an estimate as to how much they are worth, so you can determine if these items were sold to lower the value of property you’ll be dividing in divorce. Or you might find out through the family grapevine that your spouse’s cousin now has the expensive boat your spouse purchased a few years ago. Is this cousin just holding on to it, so it won’t be considered marital property? This method of hiding assets is far from new.
Finally, if you feel your spouse is hiding assets, you might want to hire a forensic accountant. A forensic accountant can review all your financial documentation—bank statements, tax returns, retirement accounts, investment information or business accounting—to see if any large financial inconsistencies exist. Forensic accountants also can review any financial information your spouse’s attorney provides, to ensure it matches what you have.
Hiding assets in a divorce may prevent you from getting a fair settlement and it is illegal. You should alert your legal team right away if you feel your spouse is hiding assets, so your attorney can help ensure you get the settlement you deserve.