Couples don’t divorce because everything is going just swimmingly. Divorce is a result of deep-seated issues and problems, hurt feelings, and perhaps even betrayal. It’s usually not 100 percent amicable, and – although assets should be divided equitably – each spouse is trying to come out of it smelling like a rose, financially speaking. This take-no-prisoners attitude is not uncommon, to the point where a spouse will sometimes resort to hiding assets during a divorce to gain an edge and emerge with more than their fair share. This is, of course, illegal, but not uncommon.
What are some of the signs that your spouse may be hiding assets?
What to look for
- Unfamiliar bank and credit card statements start coming in the mail. This could be a sign that your spouse has opened up separate accounts in order to divert money.
- Your name has been removed from joint accounts or you no longer have access to them at the bank or online.
- Automatic payments are being made from credit card or bank accounts that you’re not familiar with. If it appears that these payments are being made to other accounts, your spouse could be slowly draining your joint accounts into his/her own.
- Credit cards are being overpaid. For example, if a credit card has a balance of $75 and a payment was made for $500, a $425 credit – as good as cash – has been created.
- Your spouse is “paying off debts” or “giving gifts” to friends or relatives. This could simply be a way to put money into their hands with the understanding that it will be returned after the divorce case has concluded.
- Your spouse has opened a custodial account for one of your children. The account may be in the child’s name, but the spouse’s social security number is likely attached to it. This may simply be a way to divert money into an account that only your spouse has access to.
- Part of your spouse’s income is being deposited into another account. You may need to check the paystub to see this, but you can also check your bank statements regularly to see if normal deposit amounts have changed.
- “Fake” employees are being paid. If your spouse is a business owner, creating non-existent employees and paying them a salary could be a way of diverting money that will be used after the divorce.
- Your spouse is purchasing expensive artwork, jewelry, antiques, cars, etc. This is simply a way to convert money into tangible assets, and if the value is underreported, the division of assets between you and your spouse will not be equal.
- Small charges to the post office. You may have a tendency to ignore such a small expense, but it could be payments for a P.O. box because your spouse is receiving mail that he/she doesn’t want you to see.
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, there are certain steps and procedures you should take. An experienced attorney can give you the best advice.