The property that is divided during the divorce process is supposed to be fairly distributed. This doesn’t mean that marital assets have to be equally divided, but you still want to ensure that you get your fair share. To do so, though, you need to ensure that you’re incorporating all marital assets into the property division process. That might sound easy enough, but this can become difficult if your spouse hides marital assets from you.
Red flags of hidden assets
If you suspect that your spouse may be hiding assets from you, then you may want to keep your eyes open for the red flags listed below. Any one of them could lead to the discovery of hidden assets, which can give you greater financial stability post-divorce if you’re able to loop those assets back into the property division process. So, here are some of those red flags:
- A history of untrustworthiness: If your spouse has a strong history of lying to you, then don’t just take he or she at his or her word when it comes to marital assets. Be thorough when assessing the marital estate. Follow up on new paper trails by making phone calls and asking questions that seek to get to the truth of the matter.
- Unaccounted for withdrawals: If you notice large withdrawals from a jointly held bank account, especially when there’s no explanation for them, then you should start asking questions to figure where that money has gone. You can expect your spouse to feed you a story that probably isn’t true, which is why your follow up is extremely important.
- New bills: If you see that new bills are being paid from a joint account, then you need to figure out where those bills are coming from. Your spouse could be using a credit card to buy assets that are being kept from you. Try to figure out where your spouse could be hiding new assets. At a friend or relative’s house? At a new property? Does he or she now have a post office box or a security box at the bank? Don’t underestimate your spouse’s resourcefulness.
- A business: It can be rather easy for a spouse who owns a business to hide assets. Again, you’ll want to be thorough, especially when it comes to addressing the valuation of the business and where its assets have gone. This will probably require a deep dive on your part by carefully analyzing financial records and perhaps even speaking to creditors, customers, and employees to gain a clear sense of the business’s financial picture. You might even need to consult with an expert who can give you a proper valuation of the business and whether your spouse’s claimed value is warranted.
- You find hidden cash: If you find cash hidden somewhere in your house, then there’s a pretty good chance that there’s more hidden elsewhere. Be diligent in seeking this money out. You might even want to confront your spouse at some point but be careful with how you do that. You don’t want it to drive him or her to hide the money more effectively.
Don’t get taken advantage of
The outcome of your property division process can set the stage for your post-divorce finances for a long time to come. Therefore, make sure you’re as prepared as possible before entering your divorce so that you can protect your interest as fully as possible.