Suspecting that your spouse is hiding assets during a divorce or separation can be deeply unsettling. Hidden assets can significantly impact the fairness and outcome of your divorce settlement, particularly regarding financial support and property division concerns.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to take systematic steps to protect your interests and to better ensure an equitable resolution to your divorce process.
Do your homework
Start by documenting why you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets. Note any discrepancies in financial statements, missing documents or sudden changes in financial behavior. This initial documentation can provide a basis for further investigation.
To that end, you’ll want to engage in a thorough review of all available financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements and investment accounts. Look for unexplained withdrawals, transfers or expenditures. Tax returns can be particularly revealing, as they may indicate undisclosed income or assets.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep in mind that public records, such as property records and business registrations, can reveal assets your spouse may not have disclosed. Similarly, social media can sometimes provide clues about undisclosed assets or expenditures.
Talk to someone
Considering the complexity of financial investigations, hiring a professional can be a wise move. For example, a forensic accountant who is capable of fully examining financial records to uncover hidden assets, discrepancies and fraudulent activities could be helpful to you. In addition, seeking legal guidance can help you understand the legal implications of your findings and how to incorporate them into your divorce strategy.
During your divorce, you’ll have access to formal discovery processes to obtain financial information from your spouse. You may opt to take advantage of interrogatories (written questions that must be answered under oath), depositions (sworn, out-of-court testimony) and requests for the production of documents. These tools can compel your spouse to disclose financial information and can potentially uncover hidden assets.
However you opt to move forward, it’s essential to approach the situation methodically so that you leave no stone – and no opportunity for justice – unturned.