Going through a divorce can be a complicated process. If your divorce is amicable, you and your spouse may be able to resolve key issues like custody, spousal support, and the distribution of marital property without going to court. However, if your divorce is contentious, reaching an agreement on these issues can be difficult. Things can become particularly problematic if you suspect your spouse is hiding assets.
You should hire an experienced divorce lawyer if you suspect your spouse is hiding assets. In addition to protecting your rights and taking steps to identify hidden assets, your lawyer will have access to investigators and forensic accountants who know how to locate, process, and analyze significant amounts of data.
The following documents may help you find hidden assets:
- Income tax returns: Obtain copies of income tax returns from the past few years. You can thoroughly review them to see if there are assets listed that you did not know about. There are legal consequences to intentionally putting inaccurate information on a tax return.
- Bank account statements: These statements will provide valuable information about your spouse’s income, regular expenses, and whether unusual deposits or withdrawals were made. Bank statements will also show whether a large sum of money was used to purchase real estate or other assets in your spouse’s name only.
- Loan applications: To apply for a mortgage or a business loan, you must disclose your income and other financial assets to determine eligibility. By closely reviewing a loan application, you may be able to uncover hidden assets.
- Credit card statements: This will provide a record of items that your spouse spends money on, including significant purchases, assets you are unaware of, or expensive gifts for someone.
- Business records: If your spouse owns a business or works as an independent contractor, these records may provide evidence that they hide your assets or income. Hiring a financial expert who knows what to look for when reviewing complex financial records may be necessary.
- Public records: If your spouse purchased real estate, vehicles, or a recreational vehicle behind your back, public records will provide evidence of the transaction.
What Are Common Signs That My Spouse May Be Hiding Assets?
Your spouse may resort to several tactics if they want to hide assets or make it look like they have less money than they do. For example, if your spouse owns a business, they may intentionally wait until the divorce is finalized before making a lucrative deal.
There are ways to find out if your spouse is hiding assets. The following are examples of red flags that your spouse may be hiding money:
- Your spouse claims they lost a major client, did not get an annual bonus, or received a pay cut, even though they could spend significant money on a new house, a fancy car, or other high-ticket items.
- Your spouse claims to struggle financially despite living a lifestyle beyond their means.
- Your spouse refuses to provide copies of financial information, regardless of how often you or your lawyer request this information.
- Your spouse has completely controlled your bank accounts and other financial accounts. Passwords have been changed, so you cannot access your accounts and no longer receive bank statements.
- There are expensive jewelry, art, and other valuable items that have suddenly disappeared.
- An increasing number of cash withdrawals have been made from your bank account.
- You discover that your spouse has opened a private post office box. This may be another sign that your spouse hides assets and other documents.
What Steps Should I Take if I Believe My Spouse Is Hiding Assets?
Sometimes, a spouse may suspect their husband or wife hiding assets, but their suspicions are unwarranted. However, in other cases, their concerns may be valid. There are several proactive steps you can take to find out if your spouse is hiding assets from you to withhold money from you during your divorce, including the following:
- Educate yourself. It is important to have a general understanding of your family’s finances. Collect all copies of bank statements, tax returns, investment portfolios, property records, and other important financial documents. Take the time to thoroughly review them so that you are familiar with the assets that you own jointly and those that are owned separately by your spouse. This will help you be able to identify any missing assets.
- Monitor unusual activity. Pay attention to any unexplained transfers, new accounts opened recently, and unusual expenses. If you notice anything suspicious, share your concerns and any evidence you have with your divorce lawyer.
- Conduct a thorough discovery process. You and your spouse are required to disclose all assets and liabilities during the divorce process. The discovery process allows you to request financial documents and depositions and may encourage your spouse to disclose hidden assets.
- Consult with an experienced divorce lawyer. You should work with a lawyer who will help you navigate every step of the divorce process.
How Will Hidden Assets Affect My Divorce?
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means that all marital property is divided in a manner that the court deems fair, as opposed to an automatic 50/50 split. A judge may impose penalties if you can prove that your spouse was trying to hide assets or income from you. In addition, your spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support to pay back the amount hidden from you. If your spouse was deliberately deceitful, they may face criminal charges or other penalties.
Our Woodbridge Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Represent Clients Who Suspect Their Spouses of Hiding Assets
If you are getting a divorce and you are concerned that your spouse is hiding assets, speak with our Woodbridge divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. We will help you navigate the divorce process, identify any assets that your spouse may be hiding, and negotiate the best possible settlement outcome. To schedule a free consultation, call 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, Morris Plains, and Monmouth County.