Is your soon-to-be ex-husband or ex-wife keeping you in the dark about hidden assets they don’t want divvied up in the divorce?
Maybe you’ve picked up some subtle (and not-so subtle) clues that all is not what is seems, such as bank statements that no longer show up at the house, or the amount in your bank account seems lower than it should be, or your spouse’s behavior has become overly combative when the topic of your joint finances comes up.
You’ve got suspicions, so now you want to know — where are they hiding the loot? Here are seven sneaky place spouses can turn to when they’re trying to conceal hidden assets.
Hiding Place: An item that has an easily overlooked value. Your wife told you she picked up that new painting over the couch at a yard sale for a song, when really it’s a valuable work of art. Your husband has suddenly become interested again in coin collecting, and has just added “a few things he found on eBay” to his collection, which in reality, are ultra-expensive rare coins.
Red flag: Trash or treasure? If your spouse suddenly becomes interested in antique collecting, just as your marriage heads south, it may be worth investigating the real worth of these items, especially if the spouse is adamant in keeping those items in the divorce.
Hiding place: Lock box or firesafe. For years, you know your husband or wife kept a lockbox in the back of the closet with various documents and a little bit of cash in it. Well, where did it go? If your spouse is evasive about the current contents and location of a safe or lockbox — even if it they have always maintained it as their own property — further investigation may be warranted.
Red Flag: Looking over the bank records of your jointly held accounts, do you see patterns in your spouse’s withdrawals — small withdrawals made on a frequent basis or a large, unexplained withdrawal? If there are no receipts, and no obvious money trail, where did this money end up? It could be sitting in the missing lock box.
Hiding Place: Overpaying the IRS or creditors. Your husband or wife may tell you that huge withdrawal they made was to pay off their credit card, or pay the IRS. If that’s the case, demand to see the bill. Overpaying a creditor, and then applying for a refund later, is a slick way to temporarily push some cash into hiding until the divorce process is wrapped up.
Red Flag: That pile of bills on your spouse’s desk, which may have told you the exact amount to be paid off, has suddenly disappeared.
Hiding Place: The bill collector is calling — only he’s not real. If your spouse remembers that a huge loan she took out from her grandparents years ago needs to be paid off, watch out. Some spouses concoct phony loan schemes with relatives and friends, right down to fake promissory notes, in order to funnel money out of joint bank accounts.
Red Flag: Whenever a spouse “suddenly” remembers a large debt or loan payment to a relative or friend, ask questions and collect as much written evidence as you can. This is information you will want to share with your lawyer.
Hiding Place: Delaying billing for jobs. If your spouse is in a line of work where he or she invoices clients in order to get paid, look for changes in billing cycles, or skipped or missing invoices. Your spouse may be trying to make it through the divorce before billing again as a way to lower his or her current income used in support formulas.
Red Flag: If your spouse is claiming a drop of income, yet you don’t detect your spouse working any less, it may merit further investigation.
Hiding Place: Stock or savings transfers. Some spouses make asset grabs by transferring assets to children and other relatives, business partners, and even dummy companies they’ve set up for the sole purpose of hiding money until after the divorce.
Red Flag: Any unusual activity in any account, including checking, savings, IRA and pension account, stock portfolios, should be open to scrutiny. Again, collect as much information as you can about the red flag behavior and then bring it up with your divorce lawyer, who can offer advice on how to proceed.
Do any of these resonate? To learn more about hidden assets, please read:
Bringing Hidden Assets to Light
If you believe your spouse is hiding assets in order to reduce your share of final asset division in your divorce, it is imperative to discuss your case with a family law attorney immediately. Safeguard your marital asset share and protect your financial future by learning your rights and options for uncovering hidden assets.
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