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Finding hidden assets in a divorce

Divorce can bring out a self protective nature in people. Sadly, oftentimes the self protection instinct involves looking out for their financial future after divorce. A spouse may consider hiding assets during the divorce in order to avoid having to divide them during the divorce proceedings. If you suspect your spouse of hiding assets, there are ways to look for them.

 

Financial investigative tools

In an era of electronic banking, financial tracking is fairly easy. The following fiscal documents can help to paint a complete financial picture when looking for hidden assets.

  • Tax return documents: One of the most comprehensive tools to use. These show each spouse’s income, deductions, property used to earn income and more.
  • Savings accounts statements: Review the statement for any suspicious withdrawals or transfers. If money has been transferred, usually the transfer will give the name of the financial institution receiving the money.
  • Checking account statements and cancelled checks: Again, look for withdrawals, transfers or cancelled checks that seem questionable.
  • Credit card statements and receipts: Review the credit card used on credit card receipts to make sure it is an account you knew about. Check credit card statements for large dollar purchases or anything out of the ordinary.
  • Loan applications: You must report your income and or financial assets on a loan application. Review the application for any income or assets that you were unaware of.
  • Cash flow procedures in a business: If you own a business together, your spouse could undervalue the business. Your spouse could also be paying wages to a fake employee and cancelling the checks after the divorce.

Undocumented assets

These assets are more difficult to locate and prove.

  • Transferring money: Your spouse may transfer money or assets to a friend or relative for temporary safekeeping, with the expectation of getting everything back after the divorce.
  • Purchasing items: Look for any recently purchased items that could easily be undervalued. This could include original artwork or antiques, anything that could be purchased and then resold after the divorce.
  • Offshore accounts: Unless you know about them, money in offshore accounts can be very difficult to track down based on the privacy laws of financial institutions.
  • Deferring income: If your spouse is due for a raise or bonus, they may ask their employer to defer payment until after the divorce in order to lower their reported income level.

Hiding assets is illegal and unethical, but it frequently happens. Locating hidden assets will ensure that marital finances are fairly split during the divorce proceedings.

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