Hidden Assets in Divorce
As part of the divorce process, couples divide marital assets and determine whether one spouse should receive financial support. For the outcome to be fair, both spouses need to share accurate financial information.
But not everyone is aiming for a fair outcome. Often, one spouse will try to hide assets to gain extra marital property or reduce their obligations for support. If you suspect this may happen in your situation, you need to work with an attorney who is prepared to locate hidden assets and work effectively to ensure you gain the benefits you deserve.
The Certified Family Law Specialists and Associates at Holstrom, Block & Parke APLC understand how to make the most of financial discovery opportunities and other strategies to locate, value, and include hidden assets in divorce. While every situation is unique, and some spouses get very creative with methods of attempting to conceal assets, here are some general factors to watch for and steps to protect yourself in a divorce that may involve hidden assets.
Indications a Spouse May Be Trying to Hide Assets
Some people would never dream of trying to cheat their spouse of their share of assets earned during the marriage. However, even those people can misplace or forget about accounts and other valuable property, especially over the course of a long marriage. It is important to dig through files and examine everything. The process can be confusing, particularly if you are not certain what you are looking for. Assistance from a professional familiar with hidden asset issues in divorce can help during the review of documents.
If tax returns and other information seems to be missing, that is an indication your spouse may be trying to hide assets from you. Other indications of attempts to hide assets or situations that could indicate potential fraud include:
- The passwords have been changed for online accounts. While it is a good idea to update passwords regularly, if your spouse refuses to share the new information, that indicates an unreasonable need for control and potential fraud.
- Your spouse travels frequently. Travel provides the opportunity to transfer funds to foreign accounts or move property to a location where it will be hard to find.
- Your spouse has been giving gifts or repaying “loans” to family members and friends. These individuals may be temporarily holding property for your spouse with the intention of returning it once the divorce is finalized.
- Your spouse owns a business. This offers numerous opportunities to hide assets, including exaggerated expenses, fake loans, and payments to nonexistent employees.
- Collectibles or other items are missing. If you notice that property is missing and your spouse claims the assets were donated or sold but can’t point to a receipt, this could indicate they are hiding the proceeds.
- Your spouse reports an income that seems lower than you remember. A spouse who believes they may be asked to pay spousal support or child support may try to reduce their obligations by underreporting income.
- Credit card records show many large purchases. Your spouse could be buying jewelry or other property and concealing it or selling it and keeping the proceeds hidden.
Every marriage situation presents different opportunities to hide assets for spouses who are so inclined. You need an attorney experienced in financial discovery tactics to uncover information as early on in the process as possible.
Locating Hidden Assets in Divorce
Spouses are legally required to provide information openly during divorce, so it is critical to take steps to enforce that legal obligation right from the start. An attorney experienced in locating hidden assets will make strategic use of discovery tools such as interrogatories, document production, requests for admission, and depositions to uncover essential clues to indicate the presence of hidden assets. Sophisticated discovery techniques enable the team at Holstrom, Block & Parke to uncover assets under layers of deceit, but not all family law attorneys are comfortable with depositions and financial discovery, so you will serve your interests best if you find a lawyer experienced in using these skills.
In many cases, attorneys work with forensic accountants to trace funds through multiple transactions and uncover the marital property source. It is important not only to trace the property but also to prepare evidence to prove the trail so that assets will be properly allocated by the court.
Make Sure Your Attorney Knows How to Uncover Hidden Assets in Divorce
The fraudulent attempt to hide assets is unfortunately common in California divorce cases. To protect yourself, you need to work with a divorce attorney who knows how to detect and allocate your marital assets properly.
At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we investigate to uncover the details that matter and then we ensure that all factors weighing in your favor are taken into consideration. You can trust our experienced team to protect you at every stage in the divorce process. For a confidential consultation to discuss potential hidden assets or other areas of concern, contact us today.