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What should I do if I think my spouse is hiding assets?

Hiding assets during a divorce is unethical and illegal. Yet, if your spouse is used to handling the family’s finances on his or her own, this could happen without you even noticing. If hidden assets go undiscovered, you could end up receiving less than you deserve when the marital assets are divided, and your spouse could be paying less in alimony or child support than he or she otherwise would have to pay. If you think your spouse may be hiding assets, one of the best things you can do for yourself is familiarize yourself with your family’s financial information.

How might my spouse hide assets?

If someone is hiding assets, he or she is probably doing so in a subtle way. This could include deferring a bonus or promotion, transferring money to a trusted person until after the divorce, intentionally overpaying taxes or hoarding cash, among other possibilities. In general, when people try to hide assets, they try to make their income and assets appear to be less than they are, and try to make their debts and expenses appear to be more than they are.

How can I determine if this is happening?

It is important you understand what the income and expenses of your family are, as well as the financial assets and liabilities your family has. This information will not only help you get what you deserve in your divorce, but it will help you when you begin to manage your finances on your own.

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, you should:

  • Familiarize yourself with all of your family’s financial documents. As you look through them, consider making copies for your own records, and be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.
  • Review investment changes and money transfers. If there are suddenly more transactions than usual, it could indicate your spouse is trying to make hidden assets harder to find.
  • Compare recent expenses to your family’s usual expenses. You can also compare some expenses, like living expenses, with what is typical for the area. Look more closely at anything that seems too high.

In general, if you notice anything odd, follow the money trail. You can educate yourself further on anything you have concerns about, and, depending on your situation, you may consider hiring a financial expert to help you investigate deeper.

If your divorce is already underway, you may have limited access to your family’s financial history. In that case, make sure to carefully review your spouse’s voluntary asset disclosures. You and your attorney can gather more information with the help of interrogatories or by asking your spouse financial questions during a deposition.

If you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets, your distrust may not be unfounded. To get everything you deserve from your divorce, it is important to understand your family’s finances so you will notice if there are any signs of financial dishonesty.

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