When a marriage is going smoothly, it can seem to unnecessarily nosy to want to know every single detail of your spouse’s whereabouts or financial dealings. But when the mitts come off during a divorce proceeding, one of the most bitter areas of conflict is often in the division of marital property.
In Michigan, the courts follow the legal theory of the equitable distribution of marital property when deciding how to split assets and debt as part of the divorce settlement. This means that a judge will decide on a fair but not necessarily equal division based a number of factors, including the relative wealth or earning ability of each spouse, one spouse’s responsibility in causing debt, or who was more at fault for ending the marriage.
Where are the hidden assets?
Although some of the most obvious items of marital property, like the family home, bank accounts and retirement accounts will inevitably come up in a high-asset divorce, there are a few areas where assets may not appear when the listing of marital property begins. Some of these can include:
- Unlisted or undervalued real estate or vehicles
- Gifts or support from family members during the marriage
- Extra credit cards or secret stock options
- Incorrectly listed child support payments
How do I launch a formal investigation?
When things simply do not add up, it is possible to turn to the legal process of getting to the bottom of hidden assets by first making formal requests for financial information, called interrogatories. This may include a request to inspect property or demand an independent appraisal. Interrogatories can seek information such as:
- Tax returns
- Bank account statements
- Estate documents
- Retirement or savings account statements
If the spouse is still uncooperative, it is possible to schedule a deposition in court at which they will be on the record making sworn statements about the assets in question, as well as providing an explanation about any discrepancies or omissions during the inventory process.
For Oakland County residents, even when these cases become quite contentious and drawn-out, it is worthwhile to pursue the truth if you feel that your soon-to-be ex is shortchanging you and putting you at a financial disadvantage. Transparency before a judge about financial matters involving marital property is crucial when it comes to later decisions about child support and alimony.