This article looks at three steps divorcing spouses can take if they suspect assets are being hidden from them.
In high-asset divorces, assets can be especially easy to conceal
Hiding assets is a significant problem in many divorces and ends up depriving countless people of their fair share of their marital estate. The problem, however, is especially prevalent in high-asset divorces where, as Forbes points out, divorcing spouses are more likely to have a complex financial portfolio in which it is easier to conceal financial discrepancies. Those who are going through or preparing for a divorce often first become suspicious about potential hidden assets due to a change in their former spouse’s behavior. Suspicions alone, however, are not enough to prove that assets are being hidden and the three steps below may help people going through a divorce have a better shot at getting a fair deal.
Know your finances
The best way of preventing assets from being concealed is by knowing what those assets are in the first place. In many instances, people who are the victims of an unscrupulous ex-spouse who has hidden assets are typically those who were not involved in the family finances during the marriage. For people who are still in their marriages, understanding what the family budget looks like, including what assets and debts the couple has, is often the best way of noticing suspicious behavior if and when it does happen. A person who does not know what his or her financial portfolio consists of is at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting his or her interests later on.
A look at recent tax returns, as Financial Advisor Magazine points out, can be a crucial step in uncovering hidden assets. Anything on the return that appears unusual, such as an understated income, could be a sign that a part of an ex-spouse’s estate is being concealed. Furthermore, be on the lookout for an ex-spouse who appears to have a suspiciously high tax bill. What may be happening is that he or she is overpaying in taxes in the hopes that the refund will arrive only after the divorce has been finalized.
Uncovering assets takes time, work, and experience. If suspicions about hidden assets are serious enough then a forensic accountant may be called in, particularly in high-asset cases. The most important point, however, is that any suspicions should be taken to a professional, such as an attorney, right away. Snooping through an ex-spouse’s records and correspondence, for example, may be tempting, but it could also be illegal, thus potentially compromising the hope of any hidden assets ever being uncovered.
The need for qualified legal advice is why a family law attorney should be contacted as soon as possible during the divorce process. For anybody in the midst of a divorce, an attorney can make sure that the proper steps are being taken to ensure that one’s best interests are secured and protected.