Unfortunately, your spouse may try to keep assets from you during a divorce. It is possible for your spouse to have hidden bank accounts or offshore accounts to avoid needing to share assets with you in your divorce agreement. Fortunately, there are legal tools that you can utilize to help you find hidden income and other assets.
When it comes time to divide assets during a divorce, you should figure out what assets are marital, separate, and comingled first. Having a clear, complete financial picture of all the assets owned by each spouse will help you with this step. At this point, if you feel that your spouse may be hiding some assets from you, consider some of the following steps below to protect yourself.
Where to Look for Hidden Assets
Understanding certain methods divorce attorneys and financial professionals use to uncover hidden assets may help you expose your spouse’s mischievous behavior. Here are some areas you can consider looking into to expose hidden assets:
The odds of your spouse lying to you and the IRS about their income is very low. Penalties for lying on your taxes include fines and jail time, so keeping an eye on your spouse’s tax returns is a good place to start. You should keep an eye out for any inconsistencies in income, trusts you may not be familiar with, and any real estate holdings you have never heard about.
Look at deposits and withdrawals which could show that your spouse is moving or hiding money. Pay attention to any sudden or unusual movement. Also, make copies of these financial statements as you will need them during your divorce.
Head to the courthouse
If your spouse borrowed money from a bank or mortgage company, their loan application will be on file at the courthouse for review. The application they had to complete to get this money requires them to list their assets and an estimate of each asset’s value.
Take a trip to the county tax assessor’s office
If any marital funds were taken from a savings account and used to buy property, the tax assessor’s office will have all this information on file. You can view any property or homes that your spouse owns along with an address and the taxable value of the property itself here.
The Divorce Discovery Process
If your spouse refuses to voluntarily disclose all financial information, you and your attorney will need to use a formal, legal process called a discovery process to get access to these documents. Your divorce attorney may conduct one of the following methods for doing so:
If your spouse will not give you access to certain documents, like tax returns, and financial statements, your attorney can legally ask your spouse for these.
Written questions (often called interrogatories or requests for admission)
Using these discovery tools, your spouse must answer questions in writing, or admit to statements that you believe are true.
You can ask to inspect property such as a safe deposit box.
Testimony given under oath
Known as an oral disposition, your spouse will need to answer questions under oath, which means he/she is sworn to tell the truth.
A deposition is a good way to get information from a dishonest spouse. Anyone who lies under oath during a deposition can be charged with perjury. This may be the right kind of pressure your spouse needs to tell the truth about hidden assets.
How to Search for Hidden Bank Accounts
You or your attorney can send a subpoena to any bank where you suspect your spouse has a hidden bank account. A bank is obligated to comply with a subpoena. Once you have these records, you should look for unfamiliar transactions and account numbers. If you see a large transfer from your spouse’s account, see where the money came from and where it went. If you find an unfamiliar account, then you are looking at a hidden account.
Consult with a Divorce Attorney from Our Firm
If you think your spouse may be hiding assets from you, it would be advisable to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who is familiar with asset search and investigation. At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, our attorneys can not only help you figure out if your spouse is hiding assets but also assist you with uncovering these assets as well.