As you prepare for your divorce, you will likely expect to receive a fair settlement from your spouse. Yet, they may have no intent of parting with any of your shared assets. If they were your household’s breadwinner, they may think that they deserve these, and they might take steps to hide them. If you suspect they have, it’s important to know how to find them – and the penalties they may face for their actions.
Finding hidden assets
Despite suspecting that your spouse has hidden assets, you may be unable to discover them on your own. You will want the help of an attorney in doing so, since they can subpoena your spouse to turn over financial statements and tax returns. You will also want to consider hiring a forensic accountant, who has the knowledge and ability to investigate further into their financial matters.
Knowing common hiding tactics can ease these processes. In searching for hidden assets, you will want to consider whether your spouse:
- Created paychecks for fake employees (if they own a business)
- Created false debts to family members and friends
- Created a secret or offshore bank account
- Delayed wages, bonuses or new business contracts until after your divorce finalizes
- Bought expensive items with plans to convert them to cash after your divorce finalizes
- Underreported income on tax returns
The penalties for hiding assets
If you confirm that your spouse is hiding assets, they could face serious penalties. Since they willfully concealed these from you, the court may order that you receive them as part of your divorce settlement. Furthermore, both you and your spouse must make full disclosure of your assets during divorce proceedings. Their failure to do so could cause them to face perjury charges. These charges can come with a prison sentence of up to four years, as well as significant fines.
You may fear that your spouse will get away with hiding assets. But you can protect yourself by knowing where to look and assembling a strong team to track them down.