Sometimes once a spouse notifies the other of their plans to divorce, the landscape isn't exactly trust-based from there on out. It is not unusual for the spouse who initiated the divorce to have been concealing assets for some time before they filed for divorce.
If your spouse recently told you that they want a divorce, it's normal to wonder how long he or she has been thinking about it and to suspect that they may have hidden assets.
Conversely, it ispossible that your spouse hasn't hidden anything from you, but it's in your best interests to find out for certain, especially if you are the "out-spouse," the one who played little to no part in handling the finances.
Are you the out-spouse?
If you're the "out-spouse," the first thing you should do is ask your spouse for copies of all the financial records. If they produce all of the records, the process may not be that bad. Unfortunately though, that's rarely the case.
Sometimes a spouse can't locate the records. If they can't find the documents, you can work together to track down all of the information. With everything being available online these days, it's not difficult to get account records.
Places to Look for Hidden Assets
If your spouse is less than cooperative, here are some places to look for hidden assets:
- Look at the credit card statements, are there any unusual transactions?
- Look at the checkbook register. Do you notice any odd payments to friends or family? This is a common strategy among spouses who plan to void checks or have the money returned later.
- If your spouse has a business, are they paying nonexistent employees?
- Look over the balances of your children's savings accounts and trust funds. Are the balances right?
- Did your spouse receive their expected bonuses or raises? Your spouse could have arranged to have that money put on hold until after the divorce is finalized.
- Review all investment account statements and interest on municipal bonds.
If you think it's necessary, we recommend that you talk to a reputable forensic accountant who can help you trace hidden assets. In addition to that, much can be learned from the discovery process.
If your spouse doesn't voluntarily disclose all the financial information, we can use formal, legal processes to get the information and documents from him or her.
Contact a Los Angeles divorce attorney from Claery & Green, LLP.