Somerville Office
divorce assets

What Should I Do If My Spouse Is Hiding Assets?

Divorce can be an emotionally challenging process, made even more complex when concerns about financial transparency arise. If you suspect that your spouse might be hiding assets, it's only natural to feel betrayed and uncertain about your future financial stability.

Be assured that your spouse is legally obliged to fully disclose their assets. In the case of a marital dissolution, all assets must be identified and valued when preparing the necessary financial disclosure forms. There are legal mechanisms in place to ensure a fair division of assets. It's important to approach this situation with calm, armed with the right knowledge and a supportive legal team.

Warning Signs Your Spouse Could Be Hiding Assets

There are several red flags that may suggest your spouse is concealing assets, including:

  • A sudden decrease in marital income: If your spouse's income suddenly drops, it could be a sign they are diverting funds or reducing their apparent income.
  • Overpaying taxes or creditors: Your spouse may intentionally overpay the Internal Revenue Service or creditors. After the divorce, they can get a refund or resolve the debt, effectively hiding money until after asset division.
  • New, expensive purchases: Your spouse might start buying luxury items, which can later be resold after the divorce.
  • Unfamiliar bank accounts or credit card statements: If you start seeing unfamiliar financial documents, it’s a sign of hidden assets.

If you notice any of these signs, it's crucial to document everything. Take note of suspicious financial activities, keep a record of all financial documents, and make copies if necessary. This will be helpful when you present your case to your attorney or the court.

Remember, while it's important to stay vigilant, it's equally important not to jump to conclusions. It's possible that there are legitimate reasons for some of the changes you notice. That said, it's always better to be safe than sorry. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, consult with your attorney to determine the best course of action.

Dishonesty in financial disclosures can have severe consequences. Courts view asset hiding seriously, and if discovered, your spouse could face penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment. The assets hidden could also be awarded entirely to you as a result of their misconduct.

Techniques Used by Spouses to Hide Assets

When it comes to concealing assets, some people can be surprisingly creative.

Here are some common techniques that spouses might use to hide their assets:

  • Transferring assets to a third party: The spouse might transfer money or other assets to a friend, family member, or business partner with the understanding that they will return it after the divorce.
  • Creating phantom debts: The spouse could collude with a friend or business partner to create a fake debt which they will “repay.” After the divorce, the money is returned.
  • Undervaluing assets: The spouse might underestimate the value of assets or property to reduce their apparent worth.
  • Delaying income and bonuses: The spouse may ask their employer to delay bonuses, raises, or contracts until after the divorce to reduce their income on paper.
  • Hiding or 'forgetting' about assets: The spouse might conveniently "forget" to disclose certain assets, hoping that they will be overlooked.

Understanding these tactics can help you stay informed and on the lookout for any suspicious activities. However, it's important to remember that these are just some of the many ways that a spouse can hide assets. Each case is unique, and a spouse determined to hide assets may resort to more elaborate schemes. In high-asset divorces or those involving business owners, the strategies can be even more complex.

Steps to Take if You Suspect Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets

If you're going through a divorce or separation and suspect your spouse is hiding assets, it can feel like an uphill battle. However, there are steps you can take to uncover these hidden assets and ensure a fair settlement.

#1. Document Everything

Start by gathering all financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, property deeds, and investment accounts. Keep track of any large or unusual transactions. This information could be crucial in revealing discrepancies or hidden assets.

#2. Be Aware of Common Tactics

Common tactics for hiding assets include transferring money to a separate account, purchasing expensive items with the intent to sell them later, overpaying taxes or creditors to get a refund after the divorce, and creating false debts to friends or family members. Familiarize yourself with these tactics to better recognize potential red flags. Keep an eye out for sudden changes in spending habits, unexplained withdrawals, or new accounts, which could indicate attempts to hide assets.

#3. Seek Legal Advice

It's essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and safeguard your interests. They can provide legal strategies and resources to help uncover hidden assets.

Your attorney can also you guide you through the discovery process, which will allow you to request information from your spouse about their assets. This could include interrogatories (written questions that must be answered under oath), depositions, and requests for documents. If your spouse refuses to comply or provides incomplete information, they could face penalties from the court.

Remember, discovering hidden assets can be a complex process. It requires patience, diligence, and often professional assistance. But taking these steps can help ensure a more equitable division of assets in your divorce.

Trust Lane & Lane, LLC to Advocate for You

An experienced divorce attorney plays an invaluable role when you suspect your ex is hiding assets. Their expert knowledge and years of training equip them to handle these complex situations strategically. They can help you navigate the legal system and use various discovery tools to uncover hidden assets. These tools may include subpoenas to obtain records directly from financial institutions or employing a forensic accountant to analyze complex financial data.

Your attorney can also file motions to compel your ex to disclose all financial information under penalty of perjury. If your ex provides misleading or incomplete information, they might be held in contempt of court, face fines, or even imprisonment. If hidden assets are discovered, your attorney can argue for a more favorable division of assets or even request the court to award you the entirety of the hidden assets as a penalty for your ex's misconduct.

At Lane & Lane, LLC, our divorce attorneys are committed to helping you secure a fair and equitable settlement. We understand how emotionally trying this situation can be for you and your family. That's why we strive to provide compassionate counsel and seek the best possible outcome for you. With our help, you can obtain the financial stability and assurance you need during this difficult time.

If you suspect that your spouse might be hiding assets, don't hesitate to call us at (908) 259-6673 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.