Are you going through a divorce and want to ensure fair distribution of assets? The court will determine the division of assets under divorce law, prenuptial agreements, and other legal considerations during the divorce process. It is human nature, particularly in an unfriendly divorce, for one party to hide assets. An experienced lawyer can help identify hidden assets in the divorce case and ensure their fair distribution between spouses.
How to Find Hidden Assets in Divorce cases
If a spouse alleges that the other is hiding assets during a divorce, this could lead to an investigation to determine the hidden marital assets. For example, if a valuable piece of jewelry goes missing or funds disappear from a joint bank account, the court would consider these assets missing. The investigation will often focus on the following questions:
● Who has access to marital assets?
● How could they have hidden the assets?
● How much income was the couple bringing in?
● What were the couple’s expenses?
A discrepancy between income and other assets gained in the year versus the couple’s expenses and savings could indicate hidden assets.
In other words, suppose that Joan is the sole earner in the relationship. She makes $100,000 a year after withholding, spends $32,000 on known expenses, and has added $20,000 to the couple’s bank account, which she holds jointly with her spouse. An investigator would ask where the rest of Join’s income – $48,000 – went. Did she divert it to other bank accounts? Did either spouse withdraw cash during the year?
During the discovery phase of divorce proceedings, both spouses present documents to the court. An attorney can attempt to compel the other side to turn over relevant documents.
Bank accounts, real estate records, title records, and other legal documents show each spouse’s financial assets.
If an investigator suspects a spouse of hiding assets, they can follow the paper trail. By looking at the following documents for information about the location of a couple’s money, they might find hidden assets.
· Tax returns
· Business and personal bank statements
· Marital estate documents
· Financial aid documents
· Loan applications
· Check registers
In the modern world, financial transactions leave a paper trail. Some transactions, such as under-the-table cash income, can be more complex to track down than others. Despite the challenges, investigators can look for hints in their financial documents and patterns of behavior.
Analysis: Following the Paper Trail to Hidden Assets
Once financial documents are in hand, the investigator can look for transactions designed to obscure the source or destination of assets. For example, a spouse may make regular payments to a contractor or consultant company that is a sham business. The money eventually ends up in an account the spouse controls.
A spouse trying to hide assets could sell the asset to a friend or relative at a lowball price with the understanding that the buyer would pay the remainder of the asset’s value in cash to hide it from the investigator.
It is essential to consider:
· Which assets each spouse could access
· The knowledge and means that each spouse could devote to hiding assets.
A spouse working in the financial industry with influential friends and colleagues has more opportunities to hide assets than a homemaker with a high school education. Someone investigating a specific spouse would look for evidence of hiding strategies that the spouse could have achieved.
Hobson & Hobson is a family law firm based in Marietta, GA. We have experience with divorce law, including investigations of hidden assets in divorce cases. If you are going through a divorce and suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, or if your spouse has accused you of hiding assets, let Hobson & Hobson be your advocate and guide you through the complex legal process. Call (770) 284-6153 to schedule a consultation today.
Attorney Sarah Hobson at Hobson and Hobson, P.C. are powerful advocates for those who fight for better futures for those going through divorce and custody law matters.