How to Tell If Your Ex Is Hiding Assets During Your Divorce
How to Uncover Hidden Assets During a Contentious Divorce
Did you know that roughly two-thirds of all married people hide money or other assets from their spouse? Since hidden assets are so common, you need to be aware that your ex might hide assets during your divorce. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to identify these assets and ensure you get an equal share.
Pay Attention to Your Ex’s Lifestyle
An important step in finding hidden assets is simply noticing that there is something to hide. In some cases, it can be impossible to notice your spouse has been hiding assets. However, most people who hide assets are not as secretive as they think they are. Both abnormal wealth and abnormal poverty can be a sign your partner’s money is going towards something they are hiding. Some potential signs your partner is hiding assets during a divorce may include:
- They have had a sudden decrease in the salary they report.
- They are making large payments or giving lavish gifts to friends and family members.
- They are suddenly secretive about finances and angry when confronted
- They are living a luxurious life despite claiming to make no money.
- If they run a business, they might suddenly have a lot of extreme business expenses.
- Your bank statements and other financial documents are no longer being mailed to your home.
- They have no explanation for where their money comes from.
If you notice any of these signs, it can be a hint you need to look more closely at your partner’s assets. Even if all the documents and paperwork you see look normal, there are all sorts of surprising assets that may be hidden. Being able to notice and identify suspicious behavior is often one of the first steps to addressing the problem.
Look for Paper Documents
If your spouse typically handles all the finances, you may not know much about what assets you have. Just talking to your ex can be a good place to start. However, if your partner claims they cannot provide important documents, you should be suspicious. Even now when almost everything is digital, there is also a paper trail. Many major financial institutions still send paper statements, tax forms, and other documents. This can help you learn about things like:
- Annual salary
- Additional sources of income
- Investment accounts
- Extra bank accounts
- Property purchases
- Stock purchases
Try to take a look around your shared home and see if you can come across any of these documents. Sometimes they may be stashed in a safe, drawer, or file cabinet. Other times, people may purposefully hide them in spots like a high shelf in the closet or underneath a mattress. It is usually beneficial to keep the hard copy, but if you cannot do this, consider taking photos or making a copy of the item.
When searching for these documents, make sure you are only looking in areas where you have legal access. You are free to do things like look through the desk drawer in a home office, but you should not be doing things like breaking into your spouse’s private post office box or combing through their office at work. Furthermore, you cannot hack into your ex’s online accounts to seek documents. Doing illegal things to obtain documents may make it harder for you to use them in a case.
Keep a Close Eye on Bank Statements
Typically, a spouse with hidden assets will not give you access to their private bank accounts, but you can still find out a lot from statements for joint accounts. If you and your partner are putting money into a joint account, you may be able to see what they spend money on. Check the account carefully to see if there are any instances of your partner withdrawing money for unknown purchases. Some red flags for hidden assets include:
- Regular, small transfers to another account
- Payments for utilities at an address you do not recognize
- Purchases for expensive items you never see
- Payments on a credit card you’ve never seen your partner use
- Bills for storage facilities
- Money that enters the account and is withdrawn promptly
- Frequent withdrawals of cash
Request a Copy of Your Credit Report
Your credit report can do more than just help you buy a house. A credit report also gives a detailed report of purchases, assets, and debts. This can give you insight into whether your spouse has been using your name to open any new bank accounts, apply for a car loan, or make purchases with a credit card. To check your credit report, you just need to contact one of the major credit reporting companies. They are required to give consumers one free copy of their credit report each year. Companies you can talk to about your credit report include:
It can be extremely useful to also get a copy of your spouse’s credit report. However, each person’s credit report is private information. You cannot request it just because you are married to the person. While you cannot obtain it from a credit reporting agency yourself, keep in mind that you can ask your spouse for this document. Your ex may not realize just how much information is in it, so they may willingly share it with you.
Get Assistance From an Experienced Divorce Attorney
If you think your spouse might be hiding assets, it can be a good idea to get an attorney involved. A divorce attorney can be helpful because they will use legal means to get your ex to reveal their assets. During a divorce, it is illegal to hide assets from the court. There is a part of the divorce called discovery, where lawyers can formally request information from the other party. If the party refuses to turn in this information or answer truthfully, they may face legal consequences. Some methods your lawyer may use during your divorce discovery include:
- Asking to inspect certain personal property, like a safe deposit box.
- Scheduling a formal deposition where your ex must answer questions under oath.
- Submitting a request for admission, or list of questions, that your spouse must write the answers to and return.
- Demanding that your spouse produce relevant documents, such as tax returns and bank statements.
In addition to handling all the legal document discovery requests, lawyers can also help you with research. A divorce lawyer spends a lot of time helping their clients uncover information. They may be able to recommend effective research techniques and help you learn more about assets your partner is hiding.
Finding hidden assets can ensure that you receive your fair share of marital property during a divorce. At the Law Office of Kelly Berton Rocco, we are committed to helping you get the funds you deserve. Our team will work hard to help you discover hidden assets and plead your case in court. To learn more about our Hackensack divorce services, fill out our contact form or call 201-343-0078.