Going through a divorce can be an incredibly stressful process, no matter what the circumstances. However, when a spouse attempts to hide assets in order to evade the prospect of having their assets divided or being obliged to pay spousal or child support, the stress can multiply.
If you suspect your spouse is trying to hide assets from you during your divorce, it’s natural to feel upset and even overwhelmed by this situation. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are ways of uncovering hidden assets during a divorce. An experienced divorce attorney has many tools at their disposal to help you to uncover your spouse's hidden assets so that a fair settlement can be reached.
How Do People Try to Hide Their Assets?
People who are trying to hide their assets may try several different methods, and it’s important to be aware of what methods your spouse may try to use to hide assets from you during a divorce. 4t
These can include:
- Transferring funds to family members or friends – This involves transferring funds to an individual outside the marriage, usually with the intention of not disclosing that money under the terms of a settlement agreement.
- Hiding income and assets in overseas bank accounts – Some spouses will attempt to conceal their financial status by hiding their income and investments in an overseas bank account.
- Under-reporting income on taxes – By under-reporting income on tax returns it can be difficult to know exactly how much money is being earned, making it possible for one partner to use some of that money without the other’s knowledge.
- Moving large sums of money between accounts – If a spouse moves large sums of money between accounts this can make it difficult for the other spouse to track exactly where all the money is going and how much is available.
- Hiding assets through real estate – By purchasing property in a different name or transferring ownership to a third party, it can be difficult to discover the true ownership of the asset during divorce proceedings. Additionally, spouses may attempt to obscure their property’s value by taking out mortgages or refinancing the home with an inflated amount.
If a spouse has attempted to hide assets during a divorce, then it is essential that you speak with a trusted divorce attorney who is experienced with high asset divorces before proceeding further with your case. An experienced lawyer should be able to provide you with sound advice on what options are available to you so that you can track down any hidden assets, protect your interests, and get a fair outcome from your settlement agreement.
Gather Financial Documents
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, it’s critical that you collect any financial documents that you can to share with your divorce attorney. Even if you’re not sure if a document is relevant, it’s worth sharing it with your attorney. They may be able to recognize a discrepancy or some other relevant information that could help them build a strong case on your behalf.
This may include:
- Bank statements
- Investment portfolios
- Credit card statements
- Insurance policies
- Mortgage documents
- Marital agreements
Comparing financial documents can help identify any discrepancies or missing information that could indicate potential attempts at hiding assets from one's former partner.
Understanding Discovery Tools
Through the use of discovery tools, a divorce attorney can gain access to information that can help identify any money or property that may have been concealed by your spouse.
Common discovery tools include:
- Interrogatories – a set of written questions that must be answered under oath and in writing by the other party involved in the proceedings
- Request for production – involves asking the other party to produce documents or tangible items that are relevant to their case
- Depositions – allows attorneys to ask questions directly of witnesses or parties under oath
- Subpoenas – compels individuals or organizations to provide sworn testimony and/or documents related to a case
- Document requests – allows one party to request certain documents from the opposing side such as bank statements, tax returns and other financial records
Through these methods, divorce attorneys can uncover hidden assets more efficiently than an individual spouse could on their own. For example, interrogatories can help provide details about any bank accounts and investments owned by either spouse prior to divorce proceedings beginning. Requests for production can reveal discrepancies between what one spouse claims they own compared with what is actually owned by either party when documents are produced.
Subpoenas can provide direct access to financial records such as bank statements from third parties who may have been unknowingly used as a vehicle for hiding funds or assets throughout the marriage (e.g., friends or family members). And depositions allow attorneys to ask direct questions about any suspicious activity detected during the discovery process to get further details on how assets were moved around during the marriage. By utilizing these various forms of discovery, an experienced divorce attorney can effectively help you uncover your spouse's hidden assets.
Uncovering hidden assets during a divorce can be a daunting process, but with the right strategy and proper investigation techniques, it’s possible to uncover these assets so that they can be included in property division. At Burch Shepard Family Law Group, we know how distressing it can be when you suspect your spouse is hiding assets from you. Our experienced attorneys can provide sound legal advice tailored specifically towards each individual client's case.
If you are concerned that your spouse might be hiding assets during your divorce, reach out to us online or call us at (949) 565-4158 to schedule a consultation so that we can discuss your legal options.