In a divorce, couples split assets fairly, although not necessarily equally. In order to get a greater-than-fair share of the marital property, some parties to a divorce have been known to hide assets. By reducing the overall pie, the ex-spouse gets a smaller percentage.
It is illegal, as well as immoral, to hide assets in a divorce.
Fortunately, if you suspect that your spouse is hiding income or other assets, you can use a powerful legal tool referred to as "discovery" to find these assets.
Dealing with assets in divorce
During a divorce, it is important to have a comprehensive financial picture of the assets possessed by each spouse. All of these assets will be categorized as comingled, separate, or marital. Marital property refers to assets that are acquired during a marriage while separate property refers to assets that are acquired prior to marriage or after a separation. Comingled property is essentially a mix of separate or marital assets. For example, a retirement fund or a bank account could be comingled property.
While you may not have ownership rights to the separate property of your spouse, it is important to account for all property. In some states, a court will take into consideration the value of the separate property of both spouses to determine how to split debts and marital property.
How to find assets
In many marriages, one spouse handles the majority of the bookkeeping. If you played little or even no part in keeping track of spouses, an attorney may refer to you as the "out-spouse." All this means is that you don't possess knowledge or immediate access of financial information. However, your spouse does possess knowledge and immediate access to financial information.
As the out-spouse, you want to ask your spouse to make copies of all the financial records. In some cases, the spouse is able and willing to provide copies of these records. However, in some cases, the spouse is unable to find the records or unwilling to provide them. If your spouse is unable to find the records, you and your spouse can work together to find the financial information. Chances are, you will be able to find many account records online easily. You and your spouse can send joint requests to banks, mortgage companies, and retirement plan administrators for records.
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, you should consider speaking to an attorney who has experience when it comes to asset search and investigation. In fact, even if you don't think your spouse is hiding their assets, you should contact an attorney to ensure all assets are accounted for.