Even though hiding assets during divorce proceedings is improper, it does occasionally occur. Fortunately, divorce attorneys, with the assistance of financial professionals such as forensic accountants, are often able to detect signs of fraud or deception, and hidden assets can sometimes be revealed. Here, the divorce attorneys at Rodier Family Law provide information on hidden assets, the consequences of hiding assets and how to ensure you are receiving a fair settlement.
How Might My Spouse Hide Assets and How Can They Be Detected?
There are a variety of ways that a spouse might hide assets during divorce proceedings, which will vary depending on whether they are tangible assets, such as cash, vehicles, an art collection or other personal property, or intangible assets, such as a pension, retirement account, checking account, savings account or more. Tangible assets may be gifted to friends or family members until the divorce proceedings have ended or they may be hidden, sold or even destroyed. Intangible assets may be hidden by utilizing secret accounts or by a spouse simply refusing to declare them on tax returns or financial disclosure documents.
The digital age has made it easier, in some respects, to detect hidden assets. However, the wide availability of various technologies can also make it easier to hide assets, such as through cryptocurrencies or other measures. If, for whatever reason, you believe your spouse is not being truthful in their disclosure of assets, the discovery process may be utilized to get a clearer understanding of the assets they own. The discovery process is a formal, legal procedure judges and attorneys use to receive documents and information that are relevant to the proceeding. The discovery process can occur in a variety of ways, but most commonly you may demand specific documents; ask your spouse to answer specific questions in writing, known as interrogatories; and demand to inspect a specific property, such as a safe deposit box or provide an oral deposition. Subpoenas for information or documentation can also be forwarded directly to the source of the information, seeking certified records of your spouse’s interests, accounts, and property. These demands are backed by the court, so if your spouse refuses to comply, the court may levy fines or judgments against them.
What Happens If My Spouse is Caught Hiding Assets?
If it is found, whether through the discovery process or otherwise, that your spouse has hidden assets from you during your divorce proceedings, the court may take several different actions against them. Your spouse may be assessed court costs or the costs of a private investigator or forensic accountant. Any pre- or post-nuptial agreements may also be invalidated. Your spouse could face a finding of contempt and, in extreme cases, potentially face jail time.
How Can I Ensure I Receive a Fair and Accurate Divorce Settlement?
It is often the case that only one spouse handles the finances of the marriage, leaving the other spouse, commonly known as the “out-spouse,” unaware of the extent of their spouses’ financial assets. Even if this is not the case, and both spouses equally shared financial responsibilities within the marriage, it is still possible for one spouse to attempt to deceive another by failing to disclose assets. That is why it is critical to retain an experienced divorce attorney who has the resources and understanding necessary to detect hidden assets and ensure the divorce settlement you receive is fair. The attorneys at Rodier Family Law understand how important it is for marital assets to be divided in an equitable manner, and this process can only occur if there is a full understanding on both sides of existing assets. Contact the family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law today to learn more about how they can help you receive the settlement you deserve.