Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets?
During your marriage, you may have allowed your spouse to make the majority of decisions regarding money or investments, while you handled other responsibilities around the house or at work. While many couples make these financial decisions together, in some marriages one person ends up as the “out spouse,” or the spouse who knows little about the state of the couple’s finances. While this balance may work in a successful marriage, it can lead to trouble for the out spouse when the marriage begins to sour. Not only will the out spouse have to learn how to take over their own finances upon divorce, but the in spouse may have taken advantage of their role as financial manager and secreted away cash or investments without the out spouse’s knowledge.
During a divorce, each spouse is required to make complete and honest financial disclosures. If the initial financial disclosures from your spouse appear to be an inaccurate representation of their finances, share these concerns with your attorney. The National Endowment for Financial Education has found that nearly a third of all people who have combined assets with a partner admit to deceiving their partner about money, and the incentive to hide assets from a partner are never higher than during a divorce.
If it feels as though your spouse’s declared income is too low, or expenses too high, as a way to artificially lower their alimony or child support calculation, consider hiring a forensic accountant. They can look at income and expenses to determine if those records are accurate, and can analyze past tax returns to determine other income sources not disclosed, or past earning patterns that may cast doubt on your ex’s disclosed income.
The court’s discovery process of exchanging records and documents to be used as evidence at trial will allow you to request records you may not have otherwise seen, under authority of the judge. Your attorney can request financial records, pay stubs and account statements to use in determining your ex’s true net worth. You can assist your attorney during this process by suggesting specific types of records you think your spouse may be hiding, such as bank statements under a maiden name, or accounts that your spouse opened prior to the marriage but perhaps used to invest money that would properly be considered marital funds.
If your spouse is found to have lied to you and the court about their income, debts, or assets, then that person has committed perjury and could be in serious trouble. Having a resourceful, zealous attorney representing you in your divorce will send the message that you won’t be taken advantage of, and that hidden assets won’t be hidden for long.
If you are going through a divorce in New York’s Hudson Valley and need experienced legal counsel, contact the Kingston family law attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello for a consultation on your case, at 845-331-4100 for our Kingston office or 845-236-4411 for our office in Marlboro.