The process of divorce can be complicated. If you are considering divorce or have already begun the process, you likely have many questions about the next steps and what to expect. One issue that often arises in divorce cases is hidden assets. In other words, one spouse may hide money or valuable assets from the other. This blog will explain how couples can find hidden assets during divorce and how they should go about detecting them.
The hidden assets can take many forms. They are assets that are not reported or disclosed. It’s a common practice for spouses to hide assets during divorce proceedings to keep them out of the reach of their spouse and their children.
Hidden assets can be found in many different ways:
- By looking at bank records, tax returns, and other financial documents. For example, suppose your spouse has multiple accounts but hasn’t reported them as part of their asset inventory. In that case, this is a sign of possible hidden money and should raise suspicions about what else might have been left off the books. Also, look for symptoms like multiple homes owned by one spouse that haven’t been disclosed on either party’s tax returns; additional vehicles purchased without being listed on an accident report or insurance record; or cash withdrawals from banks where no other account exists under your spouse’s name (or yours). Hidden funds may also be held in foreign banks outside the United States jurisdiction – check with your lawyer about how best to address this possibility before proceeding with any legal action related to these funds.
- By looking at lifestyle differences between you two – for example, when you two were still married, living together vs now living separately after separation/divorce was finalized.
- By investigating whether there are other sources of income besides just their salary from work.
Detecting Hidden Financial Assets in Divorce
Divorce is a matter of state law, so the process for determining hidden assets varies from state to state. However, some general guidelines can help you determine whether your spouse has tried hiding their financial investments during or after marriage.
First and foremost, examining bank accounts and credit card statements is essential as these are two of the most common ways people conceal their assets. You should also look at your and your spouse’s tax returns (if they’re married). Additionally, consider hiring an experienced forensic accountant who can help you detect any suspicious activity in financial documents like checks written from a company account into personal accounts belonging to either party involved in divorce proceedings.
Documents to Request from Your Spouse
Most people think their spouse is hiding assets from them, but it can be hard to prove this. Below are some documents you can request from your spouse that may provide evidence of hidden assets:
- Tax returns for the past three years (both of you)
- Your bank statements for the last two years
- Your spouse’s broker statements for the last two years (if applicable)
To help you determine if your spouse has been hiding assets, here are some additional items you should review:
- Joint checking accounts and other investment accounts in which you have an interest or signature authority.
- Any retirement accounts.
- Any life insurance policies that have your name on them.
- Any real estate owned by you and your spouse, including the home you live in and any rental properties.
Examining the Lifestyle of Your Spouse
To find hidden assets, you will have to look at your spouse’s financial documents. This could include their income tax returns and bank and credit card statements. It would help if you also looked at any social media accounts they use frequently. The more information you have about your spouse’s lifestyle, the easier it will be for you to spot potential hidden assets.
When analyzing these types of financial records, keep in mind that there are many different ways that people can hide money from their spouse during a divorce case:
- They may have an account with a different name or Social Security number, for example;
- They could also be hiding funds in someone else’s name, or even worse yet – under another person who does not know about it (a minor child).
If you believe your spouse has hidden assets, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you gather evidence and build a strong case against your spouse.
Hiring a Forensic Accountant
A forensic accountant is a neutral third party who can help you discover hidden assets. Lawyers often hire forensic accountants to assist in a divorce, and they can also be used by individuals trying to prove their spouse’s hidden assets.
This expert will review your financial records and look for inconsistencies that may indicate bogus expenses or fraud. For example, suppose the person has been regularly paying off someone else’s mortgage without explanation. This could mean they are hiding assets from you to avoid paying alimony or child support.
Potential Costs of Hiring a Forensic Accountant
The cost of hiring a forensic accountant may vary depending on the size of your estate. If you hire one, your maximum price will be $5,000 to $30,000. However, if you are going through a contested divorce and your spouse hires an expert to prove that they are entitled to more assets than what has been listed in their initial petition, this cost could be much higher.
The cost can also increase if more than one forensic accountant is involved in the case because it is expensive to have multiple people working on it simultaneously.
You should consult with an attorney if you believe your spouse might be hiding assets. It would help if you did not try to find hidden assets on your own because that could be considered fraudulent. The same goes for hiring a forensic accountant or private investigator on your own—if a party in the divorce case hires someone, they must disclose it and let the other party know what they are doing. There are many ways people can hide money and property from their spouses: offshore accounts, bank transfers between accounts opened at different banks by one person or several people together (known as “structuring”), etc., all require an expert eye to detect them.
When trying to get a fair settlement in your divorce, it’s essential to know if your spouse is hiding assets. If you believe there are hidden assets in your marriage, you should consult an attorney who can help you find them. The Lake County law firm of Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg, LLC offers complimentary consultations to discuss your case and legal needs. Call us today!
The post Tips for Finding Hidden Assets in a Divorce? appeared first on Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC.