One of the most common illegal activities in divorce cases is one spouse hiding assets from the other to cheat the person from receiving the full division of property deserved. Although this is usually relevant to couples in which one spouse handles all the finances, it's also possible when both are involved or even have a joint business. These are the warning signs to look for to determine if your spouse is hiding assets from you. If any apply to your situation, hire an attorney to help you locate the assets so you receive a fair and honest divorce settlement.
Opening new accounts
Finding statements from new banks and credit card companies may indicate hidden accounts opened under only your spouse's name. The evidence may not reach your home, however. Your spouse may have started using a post office box, having mail delivered to the workplace or a family member's address, or only doing online banking to prevent you from discovering the paper trail. In the latter case, check your computer history for the websites of any unfamiliar financial institutions.
Making odd purchases and payments
An easy way for your spouse to keep money from you in a divorce is to purchase antiques or collector items whose values you can easily overlook. Your spouse will resell the items after the divorce to get the value back. A related activity is gifting valuables to family and friends to reclaim later. Your spouse may also overpay bills, such as a credit card balance to create spendable cash or the IRS to receive a refund once the divorce is final.
Reporting changes in business
When it comes to running a business, your spouse may try to hide money and information from you in several ways:
- Not allowing you to participate in the business or look at financial records
- Reporting a sudden, dramatic decrease in income or increase in operational costs
- Deferring his or her salary, commissions and bonuses
- Underreporting income on tax returns
Even if your spouse began the business before you were married, you are still entitled to all profits made since the marriage. Half of its value is yours due to community property laws. If you own the business together, make sure you are just as involved in the finances as your spouse or accountant is.
These are only a few of the signs to look for. You need to know more signs of hiding assets to discover if you require the help of a legal team to obtain your fair share of property and money in your divorce.