Starting to notice changes? Are you worried that your husband is hiding money before divorce? Concerned about whether your wife is concealing assets? Needless to say, divorces are stressful. Not only splitting from someone emotionally but also financially can take its toll on anyone. But as sad as it is, people will take advantage of their spouse in this fragile time.
One of the biggest issues people run into during a divorce is splitting up their assets -- especially when one seems to be hiding theirs. Unsurprisingly it’s very common for spouses to in fact hide money and assets before and during a divorce.
Things can get ugly, but if you spot the signs that your spouse is hiding money or assets early, you can protect what’s rightfully owed to you. In this post, we’ll cover 15 signs that your spouse may be hiding money or assets from you and legal ways you can account for it.
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- Statements from banks and credit card companies, you’re not familiar with, turn up in your mail. Also, keep an eye out for statements from banks that are familiar to you, with just your spouse’s name.
- You’re finding ATM receipts for accounts you’re not familiar with.
- Your spouse has been over paying credit card debts. If your credit card bill is $100, and your spouse makes a payment of $5,000. They essentially just created an account with a balance of $4,900.
- ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments are being made from your joint account to accounts you’re not familiar with.
- Large withdrawals are being made from your joint account without discussion.
- Purchases of expensive artwork, antiques, cars, etc. In this case, your spouse may be converting money into physical assets and underreporting the value.
- Your spouse is underreporting their income. This is much more difficult for W-2 employees, but if your spouse gets paid in cash (under the table), they can easily underreport what they actually make. Legalzoom has a great article on hidden assets that covers extensively how your spouse may be deflating their income. You can take a look here.
- Your spouse has opened a custodial account. By opening an account in your child’s name with their social security number, they can funnel money away in the guise of something to benefit your child like a college fund.
- Your spouse has been paying off phony debts. By paying a “debt” to a friend or relative with the understanding that the money is to be returned to them, your spouse can have money funneled away until the divorce is final.
- Paying the salary of fake employees. If your spouse owns a business, they could have been hiring fake employees and paying their salary. By paying these fake employees, your spouse can then hide money in an account they own.
- Paying their lover’s expenses. If you find out that your spouse has been having an affair and has been paying their expenses without your knowledge. Chances are they have been using the hidden money to bankroll their lover’s expenses.
- Your spouse’s pay stubs show deposits to an unfamiliar account. If you don’t have access to your spouse’s pay stubs, take note if the normal deposits your spouse usually makes have gotten smaller.
- Small charges are being made to the post office. Your spouse may have purchased a PO box to receive bank statements, rather than have them sent to your home.
- Your spouse owns multiple cell phones.
- Your spouse gets defensive when you question them about their finances.
What You Can Do About It
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably noticed a few of these signs in your own spouse. If you’re about to go through a divorce or are in the middle of one, there’s a legal way to find your spouse’s hidden assets - called discovery. (DivorceNet has a great in-depth article about discovery during divorce.)
Discovery in simple terms is the lawful procedure of obtaining evidence from the other party or parties, in this case, your spouse. Some of the tools the discovery process give you are:
- Document demands. You can ask your spouse to produce documentation like bank statements and tax returns.
- Interrogatories. You can ask written questions called interrogatories. Your spouse must answer these, and you can have them formally admit to statements and facts you know to be true.
- Inspection demands. This is great for inspecting property like safety deposit boxes, homes, and those antiques we mentioned earlier.
- Testimony. When under oath, your spouse has, to tell the truth or risk committing perjury. This is called an oral deposition, and it’s an opportunity to ask your spouse questions they must answer truthfully by law.
You’re fully within your rights to conduct the discovery process on your own. If you’re interested, you can take a look at another DivorceNet article about discovery questions.However, we do suggest that you seek professional help. Divorce attorneys that have experience in investigations know the best ways to get the information you’re looking for. We would also suggest that you talk to your attorney about whether or not it makes sense to hire a private investigator to help find your spouse’s hidden assets.