Five Places to Begin to Look for Hidden Assets During a Divorce
With surprising regularity, some people endeavor to hide assets from their spouse during divorce proceedings. The objective of the spouse engaged in this type of misfeasance is to increase the share of money and other property he or she walks away with at the conclusion of divorce proceedings. There are some strategies a person can employ to protect against a spouse intend on hiding assets. These begin with researching five places at which you might find evidence of a financially devious spouse:
- Tax returns
- Checking accounts and cancelled checks
- Savings accounts
- Colleagues, friends, family of spouse
- County tax assessor's office or register of deeds
The reality is that there are individuals who actually begin attempting to tuck away or hide assets in their favor long before formal divorce proceedings commence. A starting point to detect whether or not a spouse is hiding money or other property is via tax returns.
When it comes to tax returns, the wise course is to go back at least five years. While a person who attempts to hide assets from a spouse may be relatively comfortable taking such a course, that individual may be less at ease falsifying tax returns. Thus, if you do have a general understanding what to look for, you may find helpful evidence that assets are being hidden from you by your spouse.
There are some specific items to look for on tax returns when trying to ascertain if your spouse is attempting to sock away assets and keep them from you:
- Income inconsistencies
- Real estate holdings you did not know existed
- Trusts created without your knowledge
- Previously unknown partnerships or limited liability companies
Gleaning information about checking accounts and cancelled checks needs to occur on two fronts. First, you want to examine checking account statements, cancelled checks, and electronic payments from such an account to identify any transactions you previously had no knowledge of. Second, you will want to determine whether there are any checking accounts (or any other types of financial accounts) that you previously did not know existed.Savings Account
In a manner similar to the search associated with checking accounts, you need to ascertain whether there has been unusual activity on any savings accounts. You need to determine whether there are any savings accounts that you did not know existed.Colleagues, Friends, Family of Spouse
Yet another area in which you are wise to investigate when ascertaining whether your spouse is concealing assets admittedly is challenging. The grim reality is that with unfortunate frequency, people associated with a divorcing spouse aid in hiding assets. This cohort of conspiring individuals can include colleagues, friends, and family.
While they may be reluctant to provide accurate information, the scheme they may be participating in very well may be illegal. If that is the case, most people are apt to reveal what is going on in order to avoid some type of involvement in the criminal justice system.
A final note on this particular category of places to look for hidden assets is important. Do not overlook your spouse's employer. Employers have been known to assist their employees in hiding assets in marriage dissolution matters.County Tax Assessor's Office or Register of Deeds
Finally, if you believe your spouse may be engaged in hiding assets to keep you from obtaining your fair share or marital property, you will want to visit the county tax assessor's office or the register of deeds. As mentioned previously, spouses have been known to attempt to hide more liquid assets in the form of real estate in anticipation of a divorce.
As was also noted, when examining tax returns, you need to be on the lookout for trusts, partnerships, or limited liability companies. If you identify one or another of these on a tax return or elsewhere, you will want to make sure to check records at these county governmental offices for real estate in the name of one or another of these entities.
A divorce attorney can provide invaluable assistance in addressing a situation in which a spouse attempts to hide assets during a divorce. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is important that you advise your attorney that you fear this is going on.