Hiding assets and income can be one of the most frustrating and contentious aspects of the divorce process. Unfortunately, people too often attempt to hide or devalue their assets, income and personal possessions such as jewelry, antiques, and bank accounts. This often becomes easier for people to accomplish if the parties are separated. People may in some circumstances seek to hide a profitable business or claim that the business is barely functioning when in reality it is profitable and successful. People may attempt to hide stocks and claim they don’t maintain retirement assets when they do. Not disclosing assets in divorce proceedings can become a costly and time consuming issue, but a necessary one to address.
According to Divorce and Finance, spouses may be involved with hiding assets in an effort to deprive the spouse from receiving an equitable share of the asset in the divorce process. Spouses who are not disclosing assets in divorce may also attempt to establish that their assets are not generating income, in an effort to pay less alimony or child support to their spouse.
What are some of the ways your spouse may be hiding assets during your divorce?
A spouse hiding assets during a divorce may try to transfer assets to a third party temporarily while the divorce is pending, to shield the asset during the divorce proceedings. A spouse may attempt to transfer assets or funds to a partner if they own a business. Some spouses involved with hiding money during a divorce may spend their money on a new relationship or expenses other than the marital expenses, which must be maintained while the divorce proceedings are pending.
Oftentimes, people begin hiding assets before the divorce even starts, often referred to as divorce planning.
How do skilled divorce lawyers find hidden assets?
The starting point is through the discovery process. We will file requests for information from your spouse or other entities such as financial institutions. The requests include:
- Asking your spouse to review a detailed checklist of possible assets and disclose the status of those assets and their values.
- Seeking financial records including individual and business tax returns, title to real and personal property, bank account records, and other legal documents.
- Reviewing everything clients know about the finances of both spouses during the marriage.
- Examining your spouse’s current lifestyle. Is your spouse living in a better house, driving a better car, or enjoying life in ways that are not consistent with the financial circumstances that your spouse is claiming?
- Seeking the right to have real estate, business, and financial appraisers review your spouse’s assets to determine their true worth.
If we suspect that your spouse is lying about assets or not disclosing assets in divorce, we seek to depose your spouse or other individuals with relevant knowledge.
We also may hire investigators to determine whether your spouse’s lifestyle matches his/her financial asset and income claims.
Our legal team will guide you to focus on potential red flags, including but not limited to
- Unusual or substantial withdrawals from joint accounts
- New companies or ventures that didn’t exist during the marriage
- Changes in the income your spouse or your spouse’s business reports from marriage
- Pressuring you to sign agreements such as postnuptial agreements without your lawyer or without providing sufficient time to review them.
- Being secretive or reluctant to provide information.
What are some of the more sophisticated ways your spouse may be trying to hide assets during your divorce?
Some advanced methods for not disclosing assets in divorce include:
- Offshore bank accounts.
- Buying property in other states or other nations.
- Not disclosing assets in divorce by investing funds in a business or manipulating the funds through the business accounts.
What is the penalty for hiding assets in divorce?
There are many things a judge could do if your spouse is not disclosing assets in divorce. The penalties for hiding assets in divorce may include:
- If your spouse lied under oath about not disclosing assets in divorce, he/she could be charged with perjury.
- The judge could compel your spouse to contribute toward your counsel and expert fees, including the fees to pay appraisers and other financial experts – if they hide assets in a divorce.
- The judge will include those assets as marital property and will consider those assets when determining alimony and child support.
- The judge may also consider the act of lying in determining whether to give you a larger equitable share or a larger amount of spousal or child support.
- Your spouse could be charged with contempt or even face criminal charges when not disclosing assets in divorce.
Sophisticated searches are now available utilizing social security numbers, bank account information, loan information, and international accounts to attempt to obtain information when you suspect that your spouse is not disclosing assets in divorce.
At DeTorres & DeGeorge, our team will work aggressively to uncover any hidden assets and hold your spouse accountable so that you receive your share of the assets and that accurate income is utilized in the divorce proceedings. Contact us today to discuss all aspects of your divorce, including not disclosing assets in divorce, to ensure that you and your children are protected.