Love and romance sometimes turn to divorce, and even if dissolving of your union seems calm on the surface, in reality, your divorce could be completely acrimonious, especially where finances are concerned.
While prenuptial agreement can help protect assets that each spouse came into the marriage with, things might change when it comes to dividing marital property. One spouse may do anything to hide certain assets so they don't come away from the divorce shouldering larger losses than they'd like.
We have outlined some of the key places assets could be hidden below:
- Tax returns. Check back tax returns. Even if your spouse is trying to hide money from you, it's unlikely he or she would try the same tricks with the Internal Revenue Service. Secret accounts, properties, or other assets that you may be in the dark about may be clearly evident in the tax returns.
- Take a closer look at checking and savings accounts. A canceled check that has been covering an unknown property or a secret savings account can be a big clue about money that's being secreted away. Request copies of all financial accounts during discovery just to ensure that there are no hidden accounts – either opened recently to store away a cache before winter or ones that have been active and secret throughout the marriage – that could leave you with a settlement that is far from fair.
- Scrutinize deposits or withdrawals. Large deposits could signal an investment that is raising dividends. If you don't scan older accounts, you may miss this one entirely. Alternatively, large withdrawals may be used to cover the costs of gifts, trips, and other expenses if one spouse is having an affair.
- Visit the courthouse. Records will reveal if your spouse has taken out a loan with a bank or a mortgage company. Those applications, unless fraudulent, have to include all the assets your spouse has in order to successfully obtain funds.
- Stop by the county tax assessor's office. In the same way, you can check out financial assets such as annuities or investments, an assessor's office can determine if your spouse has homes or has inherited property of which of you unaware.
- Your spouse's boss may hold bonuses. If your spouse usually gets a bonus and for some reason, it has not shown up this year, your spouse's boss may be holding it until the divorce is final so you don't benefit from your partner's work.
- A friend can hide property. Those of us who watch “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” will remember that Phaedra's ex-husband Apollo tried to hide some sports equipment at the home of friend's he shared with his ex-wife, Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker. Their home was raided by the FBI, and the event played heavily on TV. Friends can store cars or other items on their main property or a vacation home or could create a fake debt owed to a friend, creating a savings account that would be returned following the finalization of the divorce.
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While you can give your attorney a heads-up about where to look for assets that your estranged spouse may have hidden, it's a good idea to investigate yourself, as well, to ensure that no stones covering up hidden assets go unturned. An attorney, however, can uncover information that may not be available to you. Please contact us if you are concerned that your estranged spouse is busy hiding money so your settlement will be smaller.