The divorce process can be especially long and drawn out when couples attempt to hide assets from each other to avoid having them divided in court. Over 30 percent of U.S. adults who have combined assets with their spouse have admitted to being deceptive about money, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education. If you are filing for divorce and believe your soon to be ex-spouse is hiding assets, you have options.
Electronic Discovery Research
Financial deceit is common during divorce proceedings, but electronic resources, such as cell phone records, web-surfing history, and Google searches, have made it increasingly difficult to hide assets from a partner or spouse.
How to Find Your Spouse’s Hidden Assets
Although searching for your spouse’s hidden assets can leave you feeling overwhelmed, there are places you can start that make it easier. Options include:
- Finding out where your spouse is sending financial statements.
- Keeping a look out for letters or emails requesting a deferment of income.
- Looking out for an increase in ATM withdrawals.
- Looking for new purchases. Your soon to be ex-spouse may choose to convert cash into an expensive asset and then under-report its value.
- Keeping a look out for unreported income on tax returns and financial statements.
- Looking for any custodial accounts that your spouse or partner set up.
Property dispersion is allowed in many states without the consent of the other party and involves temporarily disposing your property during the divorce process.
Protecting Your Assets During a Divorce
Ways to protect your assets during a divorce include:
- Opening personal bank accounts. Once you open both a checking and a savings account, inform your spouse about it, as well as how much you deposited in each account. Doing this ensures that you will not be accused of trying to hide money. The money deposited into these accounts can help you with divorce fees, as well as potentially finding a new place to live.
- Gather all financial records for the last three years. Your attorney will need these documents. You should also make copies of all these documents. Financial records include income tax statements, such as W2s, bank statements, 1099s, and investment or retirement accounts.
- Establish credit in your own name.
- Take inventory and make a list of particularly valuable items that belong to both you and your spouse. Valuable items may include artwork, antiques, boats, jewelry, and personal items, such as family heirlooms.
Consequences of Hiding Assets
Depending on your state, you may be charged with perjury for testifying falsely under oath. If you are caught lying about assets, you can be issued a fine or even jail time. You can also be charged with fraud for attempting to deceive the other party.
Chester County Divorce Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Represent Clients Filing for a Divorce
If you or someone you know is thinking about filing for a divorce, contact a Chester County divorce lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. Our experienced lawyers will fight for your rights. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 610-565-3701. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.