A divorce can unfortunately get very unpleasant for both parties, to the point where either spouse may use unfair tactics to get ahead of the other. One of these deceitful tactics is when a spouse hides some of their assets to sidestep property division, or to minimize their spousal support or child support obligations. This is illegal and could lead to jail time for the offender, yet it happens quite often in divorce cases.
Here are signs that the other party is hiding money or property in your divorce, and what you can do if this is happening.
Common Ways People Conceal Assets During Divorce
There are many ways that a divorcing spouse can hide the real value of their assets. While some ways are complex and require a deep understanding of asset management, other methods are relatively simple, which means just about any spouse can attempt to illegally conceal their worth.
Usually, a dishonest spouse reports less income and possessions than they actually have, while exaggerating their expenses and debts. They may transfer money or property to family or friends, or move assets from the couple’s joint account into their secret individual account. If the spouse is expecting payments from clients, they may discreetly ask to have these payments delayed until after the divorce is done.
Some people overpay the IRS just so they could bring home less money than they should. These individuals may decrease the tax exemptions they claim on their paychecks, prompting the IRS to withhold more money as taxes.
A person might also ‘waste’ their real estate properties to lower their value. If they own a house or other real property besides the marital home, they may devalue this property by destroying it or neglecting repairs.
You’ll notice that many of these practices can be discovered and proven in court. There is likely a paper trail or some other evidence showing how a spouse manipulated their assets or failed to disclose honest financial information. Don’t hesitate to tell your attorney if you see any suspicious behavior by your spouse.
Signs That Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets During Divorce
- Spouse is unwilling to discuss finances
- Disappearance of bank statements (old ones go missing, and/or new ones no longer arrive in the mail)
- Spouse’s unusual tax or business practices
- Spouse gives or lends money to others
- Spouse has sudden substantial expenses or loan payments
- Spouse complains about loss of money (for example, spouse may ‘complain’ about their recent salary cut or bad investment)
- Spouse becomes more controlling of their – or your – finances.
While any of these don’t automatically mean your spouse is guilty of fraud, it’s important that you talk to your divorce lawyer about these red flags. With your attorney’s guidance, you can take steps to legally uncover any deceitful maneuvers being used during your divorce.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Spouse Of Hiding Assets In Divorce
- Pay closer attention. Monitor your joint accounts including savings accounts, life insurance, retirement plans, and IRA accounts. Watch out for large withdrawals, or smaller regular withdrawals that add up to a huge sum. Examine unexplained purchases or fund transfers. Note any bank communication that has stopped coming in your mailbox, or has only started recently.
- Gather financial documents. Compile old and new bank statements, credit card records, investment records, receipts, and bills that you have legal access to (avoid opening any document that is solely addressed to your spouse).
- Journal all developments. Keep a log of notable changes in your marital assets, as well as your own observations about your spouse’s behavior. Indicate dates whenever possible.
- Consult an attorney. Even if you’re planning a do-it-yourself divorce, talking to a lawyer may give you some crucial legal guidance. At the very least, consult with an experienced divorce lawyer about your observations regarding your spouse’s financial behavior. Your attorney may spot something you may have missed, or help you find more solid evidence of asset concealment.
In Colorado, reach out to us at Goldman Law. We are highly trusted divorce attorneys who have successfully protected the interests of many Coloradans during their divorce. Asset concealment is one area we specifically fight against. Talk to us by calling (303) 656-9529 today.