Hiding assets before or during a divorce is a common practice when one of the spouses attempts to avoid sharing them with their ex. Luckily, we have a very powerful legal tool that works in all states. It’s called “discovery” process.
If your spouse refuses giving you copies of all financial records,you should start the search for hidden assets. You don’t have to do it all alone. You may want to contact an attorney with experience in asset search and investigation. The good example of such attorney is Raiser & Kenniff, PC. The founders of this NY based divorce law firm are two former prosecutors with the huge experience and practical knowledge. This is the type of attorney you are looking for when it comes to assets investigation.
The Divorce Discovery Process
If your spouse refuses voluntarily disclose all financial information, you have to use a formal”discovery process” to get the needful documents from your soon-to-be ex. Every state has own methods of getting information, but they vary slightly and mostly include following methods:
Document demands. Your attorney can officially ask your spouse to provide certain documents, such as bank statement, account records, tax returns.
Interrogatories. In this situation, your spouse have provide a written reply to your claims, or admit the truth of your statement in a written form.
Inspection demands. It can be used to get your spouse’s tangible things and electronically-stored data for inspection, copying, testing or sampling. You may also ask to inspect to real property, buildings and a safe deposit box under a spouse’s control.
Depositions. Testimony is given under oath. You, your spouse and attorneys appear before a court reporter. Your attorney will ask questions, and your spouse, “the deponent”, will have to answer. A court reporter records the testimony, which may be used at trial. If your spouse lies under oath during a deposition, he/she can be charged with perjury.
Normally, you should obtained some financial records first and only then depose your spouse. This way you can start with asking your spouse questions about financial information you’ve already examined.
Where Do They Normally Hide Assets?
Here are the first places you should always look at when searching for your spouses hidden assets:
Antiques, arts or hobby equipment. This is one of the most common tricks. Your spouse may buy an expensive asset that can be overlook or undervalued. Maybe no one will notice that expensive antique vase that’s now in the office? Look for new purchases, like furniture, arts, decoration, etc.
Underreport income. if your spouse manages to pocket the cash without reporting it on tax returns and financial statements, so it can’t be used in a financial analysis. If you have such suspicion, then it is worth pursuing.
Delay signing new contracts and/or bonuses. If you spouse gets income before the divorce, he/she will have to include it in the martial estate, which your spouse may have to split with you. By delaying long-term business contracts and bonuses, your spouse may avoid paying your share as this income won’t be “on the books” during the divorce proceedings.
Create/pay debt. If your spouse has a debt, he/she may choose to pay the debt rather than sharing money with you. Some spouses create debts on purpose in order to hide their assets. Your spouse can establish phony loans or expenses with family members or friends. Then, after paying “the debt”, your spouse get all the money back after divorce.
Expenses paid for a partner/friend/family member. Your spouse may choose to pay travelling, rent or college tuition expenses of a family member or new lover. It may also include gifts, jewelry, cars and so on.
If you feel that your spouse doesn’t report all the income, let your attorney know right away to start digging into your spouse’s finances.