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What to know about finding hidden assets in divorce

Many people in the throes of divorce may be concerned about whether a spouse is hiding assets, especially if the suspected spouse is a C-level executive or runs a number of small businesses.

A suspicious spouse may not have the resources to enlist a forensic accountant or private investigator to root out assets that could legally be considered part of the marital estate. Because of this, it is not uncommon for unscrupulous spouses to provide misleading financial affidavits in the hopes that they can keep more assets that they are allowed.

Indeed, your attorney will work diligently to find hidden assets through detailed interrogatories and document requests, but there may be additional steps to expedite a search. This post will highlight a few of them.

Initiate a public records search – When looking for a needle in a haystack, it is best to bring a magnet. A public records search for companies your spouse has ownership in or has served as an incorporator may yield information about potential ownership that may have not been previously disclosed. Such records may include recorded deeds, incorporations and recent major transactions.

Get tax returns – In the same vein, recent tax returns may show income that was not previously reported. As such, business tax returns, 1099s and other related documents can create a paper trail to show that your spouse’s income may not have been properly reported.  

Review your family budget – Budgeting is important not only for maintaining a proper cash flow for household expenses during a divorce (in case you were previously living on one income), it can also provide clues as to whether hidden assets are being financed.

Review past bills – Similar to what we noted about budgeting, a tell-sign of hiding assets is when there are consistently more expenses than income being reported, and the person is still living as if they have money in the bank. With that, it is critical to review credit card statements and various bills to discover exactly how they were paid. These statements may reveal another account that has not been disclosed.

If you have additional questions about what can be done about hidden marital assets, an experienced family law attorney can advise you.

The preceding is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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