By : Laura Lockwood
If you are going through a divorce, or have watched friends and family go through a divorce, you have likely heard about the concept of “disclosing assets.” Through the divorce process, spouses are required to disclose all of their financial assets – even if they may have owned them prior to the marriage.
Imagine the process accounting for each and every thing you own – bank accounts, sentimental photos, retirement accounts, stock certificates, valuables, cars, collections, hobby equipment, jewelry, tools, furniture, electronics, etc. You get the picture. It is quite the process. It is easy to see how a spouse might not fully disclose each and every one of their assets.
However, it is also easy to see how a spouse could use this daunting inventory process to claim they “just forgot” a specific asset – when the truth is, they didn’t disclose the asset because they didn’t want to split the asset with their soon-to-be ex-spouse. Divorces often bring out the worst in people, and hiding assets is one of the “bad behaviors” that emerge in the divorce process.
Without having specific knowledge of their spouse’s income and assets, many people finalize their divorce without really knowing what was in their marital estate. There are some signs to look out for if you suspect your spouse of hiding assets:
- New bank account statements from accounts you do not recognize
- Unexplained funds “missing” from joint accounts
- Spouse claims a sudden decrease in income
- Decrease in deposits to joint accounts
- Spouse begins gifting or loaning money to friends and family
- Spouse complains about money but makes big purchases
Even if you notice some of these signs above, it does not mean your spouse has been successful in their attempts to hide assets. If one spouse was solely responsible for managing money, the other spouse has the right – through the discovery process – to request copies of all financial documents relevant to the marriage. You will be able to obtain tax documents, account statements, loan documents, and any other paperwork that relates to assets. If your spouse refuses to provide the requested documentation, they can face sanctions from the Court – including having to pay your attorney fees, having the court continue (or delay) your divorce trial, or even possible dismissal of the case.
If you have concerns that your spouse may be hiding assets it is worth it to contact a divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss ways to protect your assets and your legal rights. Hartung Schroeder is well-versed at guiding our clients through the pre-divorce and divorce stages of uncovering all marital assets. Set up a consultation with us to ensure you understand the details of your specific situation.
ABOUT LAURA LOCKWOOD
Laura Lockwood is a collaborative attorney and mediator, practicing primarily in the area of family law. Having received extensive training in the collaborative and mediation processes, Laura believes strongly that peacemaking is an invaluable skill — particularly in family law. You can read more about Laura or get in touch with her here.