In a previous article, we discussed the risks of hiding assets during your divorce. We talked about the fact that divorcing spouses are legally required to disclose their assets, and that intentionally withholding information about assets can lead to criminal charges for perjury.
So, attempting to hide assets in your divorce is a bad idea. But, what if you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets? What can you do to make sure you receive your equitable share of marital property in your divorce?
Three Methods for Uncovering Hidden Assets in a Divorce
Fortunately, there are a number of different methods for uncovering hidden assets in a divorce. The lengths to which you will need to go will depend upon the lengths to which your spouse has gone to conceal the assets; but, generally speaking, these days it is extremely difficult to hide assets in such a way that the concealment cannot be discovered during the divorce process. In addition, most spouses who attempt to hide assets make mistakes, and this usually simplifies the process of uncovering their unlawful nondisclosure.
1. Determine What Your Spouse is Hiding
One of the first steps in uncovering hidden assets in a divorce is to determine what it is that your spouse is hiding. Often, spouses will have a general idea or suspicion that their spouse is withholding financial information, but they will not know exactly what information is being withheld.
Some of the types of assets that spouses tend to try to hide include:
- Bank, investments, and retirement accounts
- Rental property
- Investment property
- International property
- Cash (i.e. tips or revenue from selling personal property)
- Deferred compensation
- Physical assets
- Artwork or art collections
- Oriental rugs
- Coin collections
- Summer home(s)
- Gifts from parents
- Small business income, inventory, and equipment
In addition, in some cases spouses may ask their employers to delay bonuses, they may use business income to purchase high-value assets for the office, or they may even falsify payments to non-existing contractors or employees.
2. Assess Your Family’s Cash Flow
In many cases, spouses’ attempts to hide assets or income can be uncovered using the family’s bank statements and financial records. Reviewing your records may reveal information such as:
- A sudden and unexplained reduction in your spouse’s income
- Cash withdrawals by your spouse
- Check and credit card payments that you do not recognize
- Tax payments or payments to a bank or storage facility for assets being hidden by your spouse
If you have lawful access to your spouse’s business records, you can review the business’s transaction history and financial statements for abnormalities as well.
3. Use the “Discovery” Process to Your Advantage
As we mentioned previously, when going through a divorce in New Jersey, both spouses are required to voluntarily disclose their pertinent financial information. However, this is not your only opportunity to use legal means to uncover your spouse’s attempts at concealment.
One of the earlier stages in the divorce process is known as “discovery.” During discovery, you are entitled to request information from your spouse that is relevant to your divorce, and your spouse is obligated to fulfill your requests (subject to certain legal standards). By using the discovery process strategically, not only can you seek to uncover information that is directly tied to your spouse’s concealment, but you may also be able to collect information that you can use indirectly (perhaps with the help of a forensic accountant) to track down hidden assets.
Contact MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family LawTM of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC | Hackensack, NJ Divorce Lawyers
If you are preparing for a divorce and are concerned that your spouse may be hiding assets, the attorneys at MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family LawTM of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC can help. To schedule a confidential initial consultation at our offices in Hackensack, please call 201-880-9770 or request an appointment online today.