While virtually every divorce comes with some amount of contention and complexities, if you and your spouse have high-value assets, the complications might be exacerbated. Divorces that involve complex assets have unique challenges that you should understand and anticipate. One such challenge is the possibility of your spouse hiding assets to prevent them from being fairly divided. Learn the warning signs of hidden assets and how to use legal tools to find them.
Undervaluing and hiding techniques
Every divorce requires a division of assets, whether you and your spouse come to an agreement or it is ordered by the court. Signs that your spouse could be attempting to deprive you of income and property include:
-Unreported or under-reported income on tax returns.
-Money kept as travelers’ checks.
-Delayed raises, bonuses or stock options through collusion with an employer.
-Fake debt paid to a family member or friend.
-Retirement accounts opened in secret.
Even separate property should be accounted for when deciding how to divide marital property. If your spouse is hiding any assets, whether separate or marital, it is an attempt to prevent you from getting your fair share.
If your spouse owns a business, he or she may use other methods to hide assets. Signs that your spouse is using the business to hide assets include:
-Personal expenses categorized as business expenses.
-Personal expenses paid for by the business.
-Business assets transferred to family members or friends.
-Salary or benefits paid to non-existent workers.
-Business contracts delayed.
Because businesses are subject to division and must be valuated, your spouse may scramble to show lower income or delay profitable business decisions until the divorce is finalized.
If you suspect your spouse will not voluntarily disclose his or her financial information, you can use the legal discovery process with the help of a family law attorney. The discovery process gives you the ability to demand inspections, requesting a deposition and sending a subpoena for undisclosed bank accounts.
It may be disheartening to see warning signs or find out that your spouse is hiding assets, but it is important to pay attention and do everything you can to ensure that property is properly divided. Using discovery methods is a useful avenue to compel compliance with court orders. If you are preparing for or are currently going through a high-asset divorce, be sure to consult with a divorce attorney for assistance with hidden assets, business valuations and dividing marital estates.