What If I Think My Spouse is Hiding Assets? | hiding assets Attorney
Divorce is different for everyone. Some people seem to be very transparent when it comes to their finances, but when a closer look is taken you may find that money issues don’t exactly add up. In many cases, the wealthier a couple was during their marriage, the greater the chance is that your spouse will attempt to keep some of their money under wraps. Even if you don’t think your spouse would ever try to hide marital assets, the temptation to keep more earnings, have a strong start in their post-divorce life, or even retaliate based on marital issues can potentially lead to some sneaky and unethical behavior. This is why it is important to work with your attorney to find hidden assets so that a true picture of the marital finances is presented in the divorce.
What Types Of Assets Are Often Hidden?
When it comes to hiding assets, almost anything is on the table. If it is undisclosed, even the proverbial coffee can filled with cash can be considered a hidden asset. But not all cash is hidden in the nooks and crannies of the home. Some may be handed over to other friends or relatives to hold until after the divorce. There may be a claim that that person is providing some sort of a service, such as general errands or shopping and after the divorce all or most of their “wages” are returned. Some of the cash may be kept in separate accounts in these friends or relatives names – this could even include the children.
Some people try to downplay their income by making it look like they pay more in taxes, and they may try to get their bonuses deferred until after the divorce is final in an attempt to have the wages count as separate income rather than marital income. Some will start collecting things such as coins, stamps, or art, that may not look especially valuable to the untrained eye, but that can bring in a great deal of money to the right buyer at the right time.
How Are Hidden Assets Found?
Many people who hide assets can be very crafty about their methods, but if you pay attention it is possible to identify inconsistencies in their behavior that will cause red flags. Lawyers often look for signs that a person’s spending habits and income claims are not matching up. Their behavior can give them away too. A sudden interest in stamp collecting or art can raise suspicion. If there have been changes in communication habits or relationships may be something to look at. For example, if your spouse has barely spoken to their brother in the last few years, but suddenly is meeting him for lunch every week it may be possible that the brother may be assisting with hiding assets. Sometimes people will give themselves away on social media too by bragging of trip, or if their friends or relatives tag them mentioning a gift they received.
Are There Penalties If A Spouse Is Proven To Have Been Hiding Assets?
Depending on how many assets your spouse attempts to hide, there may be fairly serious consequences if they are caught. Some people are asked to pay extra fees to the court if they are caught hiding assets and in extreme cases, jail time may even be considered. In some cases the spouse is asked to pay back money to their spouse over time. For example, if $10,000 was in an account in the brother’s name, but the spouse couldn’t access it they might be asked to make higher spousal support payments until that money has been paid back.
Why Is It Important To Have An Attorney If You Suspect Hidden Assets?
The line between respecting your spouse’s privacy and keeping an eye out and watching their behavior for clues to unusual financial habits is not always clear. A lawyer can help you sort through your finances and help you get a clear sense of what should be there, and will know the right questions to ask when it is not there.
For some, it might not seem like the end of the world if their spouse keeps a few financial secrets, but if they are successful in keeping assets hidden, not only is the immediate distribution shortchanged, but it gives the illusion that the spouse has less money, which could mean they are asked to pay less in spousal support and child support.
Marriage is full of ups and downs, and usually by the time a couple has decided on divorce they have both endured a lot. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can help their client see and present the whole picture in order to assure that assets are divided as they should be.