Anyone going through a high-asset divorce will want to do whatever they can to protect their assets, and there are many legitimate ways to do so such as getting assets accurately valued or negotiating with a spouse. Some, however, take more deceitful means to try and protect something they want; these people will try to hide assets.
Read on to learn about hidden assets and what you can do if you suspect your spouse is engaging in such behavior.
Possible Signs of Hidden Assets
Hiding assets in a divorce essentially boils down to engaging in fraud. A spouse could take many means to attempt and prevent you from finding out about where certain assets went. Hiding assets may mean someone engages in one of the following acts:
A spouse could claim that they spent more money as a business expense. They could be “inflating” the numbers to make it look like they spent more money when they are actually hiding that money.
Your spouse could be spending money on expensive items like meals, vacations, clothes, jewelry, cars, sports/concert tickets, etc., such that the expenses do not seem to match the income he/she is reporting on your tax returns or depositing in the bank. This could signal they have more income than they are disclosing to you.
Your spouse may act unusual about the mail or open a P.O. box and forward certain financial documents to it.
Your spouse may exhibit more control over bank accounts or other financial instruments and/or refuse to disclose information to you about bank accounts or other accounts.
These behaviors could tip you off that your spouse is hiding assets from you.
Steps to Take Against Hidden Assets
If you start suspecting that your spouse is hiding assets, you should take immediate action to prevent it from occurring. The following are steps you can take to protect yourself from hidden assets:
Hire an outside expert, such as a forensic accountant. They can help you uncover many sources of income and other assets and help you determine whether or not your spouse is hiding something.
Take an accurate inventory of your assets with the help of your attorney. Your spouse will also have to submit an inventory, so you and your attorney could examine the list and notice any discrepancies.
Use of litigation tools called “discovery,” which includes subpoenas to third parties like banks and credit card companies for statements and records.
Many spouses are unaware that California requires spouses to operate much like business partners: with fiduciary duties to one another during a marriage and after separation, with such duties extending to management of community assets and accurate disclosures.
Contact a High-Asset Divorce Attorney
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets from you in your divorce, you should speak with your attorney right away to get ahead on the act and stop it from occurring. At TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP, we can help you uncover anything that your spouse may be hiding from you to protect your best interests and help you achieve a fair outcome.
To learn more about high-asset divorce in California or to speak with an attorney, call us at (310) 455-8364 or visit us online.