Hidden Assets in a Divorce: Spotting Red Flags
Refusal to be forthcoming with assets and other financial information is criminal in a court of law. However, the hatred and spite of bitter exes may cause some to delve into such behavior. If you have never been involved in the family finances, you do not to become instantly suspicious, but start getting involved immediately. Asking extensive questions and obtaining complete documentation are critical to ensuring your spouse will not nickel and dime you out of your own monetary possessions. If you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets from you or the courts, here are some red flags to look for to determine if further investigation through a "divorce discovery process" is necessary. Crider Family Law will be there every step of the way to guide you through the discovery process as you search for hidden assets in a divorce.
- Spousal refusal to provide financial documentation OR claiming they have no access to it
A spouse who has not been very involved in the family finances or does not have access to important records is usually referred to as the "out-spouse". In an amicable divorce, the "out-spouse" could simply ask the "in-spouse" for records and documentation and they would willingly comply. However, this is not usually the case. If a spouse refuses to provide documentation or access to financial information upon your request, seek legal help from your attorney.
- Assets recently transferred to a separate account (in their name or a friend's name)
Once the divorce proceedings begin, the individual transfer of funds from joint or brokerage accounts is strictly supervised and prohibited. If your spouse has been preparing and planning for the divorce however, there may be evidence in bank statements of transferred funds to a separate account. This account may be in their name individually or in a friend's name. If your spouse transfers funds into a friend's account with the intention of transferring them back once the divorce is final, they are not required to document these funds as part of the community property that will be divided equally in the divorce. Investigate all bank account and brokerage statements from the last year to be thorough.
- Overpaying the IRS
If your spouse primarily handles the taxes and is consciously preparing for divorce, they may instruct the Internal Revenue Service to use the tax refund from this year towards payment on next year's taxes. Once the divorce is finalized, your spouse would have a large federal and state tax refund (based on money you earned jointly) to use towards next year's taxes. This not only robs you of your rightful tax refund, but also gives them a hefty discount towards next year's payment.
- Overpriced Groceries (Stockpiling "Cash Back")
Though it would not amount to a large sum of money, it is possible to stockpile cash by simply adding it the grocery bill. By withdrawing an extra $60 or $80 every time the pin pad asks if you would like cash back, this theft from your joint account may go unnoticed and is virtually untraceable without the receipt.
- Delaying a promotion or raise
If your spouse has a good relationship with their boss, they may disclose your current marital status in an attempt to delay a promotion or a raise until the divorce is finalized.Similarly, they may delay bonuses or commissions checks for the same purpose.
- Suspicious expense reports
If you can get your hands on a copy of your spouse's latest business expenses, you might see that Cousin Joe, twice-removed, has been added to the payroll, or that trusted family friends have been paid for their "consulting."
An experienced family law attorney like Brad Crider can help you spot red flags to discover if your spouse is hiding assets for self-gain. To set up an initial consultation, call the Crider Law Offices today.