If your ex-spouse hates the idea of paying alimony or child support, and you suspect that, to minimize these payments, he or she has hidden significant income or assets, then continue reading. Here’s our guide to what to do if your ex-spouse may be hiding assets.
How Do I Know If My Ex Is Hiding Money Or Assets?
Here are five common signs that your ex-spouse may be hiding assets:
- Bank statements appear in the name of a child or friend
- Financial accounting programs (e.g., QuickBooks, Pastel, etc.) have mysteriously disappeared from the computer
- They make unusually expensive purchases of items that can later be sold again or returned
- They start complaining about debt or their lack of funds to attempt to avoid suspicion, or they suddenly become vague or secretive about finances
- They suffer a mysterious decrease in income, but their expenses remain the same
What To Do If You Think Your Ex-Spouse May Be Hiding Assets
The second you discover your ex’s suspicious behavior, you may be tempted to call him or her out. Resist that urge; knowledge of your discovery may drive your ex underground. Instead, you may want to use the time to obtain evidence and cement your strategy alongside your attorney.
Uncovering Hidden Assets
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets during your divorce, there are things you can do to try to unearth this fraud. You can hire a private investigator who can follow your spouse to find out if he goes to work full time or if he uses a bank that you without your knowing. You can also hire a forensic accountant, a financial expert who can look at your family’s finances to help you locate hidden money.
A forensic accountant can help you trace bank accounts and can determine if your family expenses are higher than the income your spouse claims to make. If you do not hire an investigator or accountant, you can still uncover hidden assets on your own. During a divorce, the court typically allows spouses to seek out information during what is called the discovery phase. During discovery, you can send a subpoena to your spouse’s employer asking for his employment records. You can also subpoena his bank statements. Finally, if necessary, you can follow your spouse on your own and document his activities if you believe he is dishonest.
What To Do About Hidden Assets Or Money Post Divorce
Sometimes you may not find out that your spouse hid assets until after your divorce finalizes. . For example, you may later learn that your spouse sold a house during the divorce. You may also hear from friends or family members that your spouse is bragging about how much money he earns even though he claimed during your divorce to make much less.
If this occurs, you can file a motion in the court where your divorce was finalized and ask them to reopen your divorce case and possibly amend your divorce agreement. This is easier in a community property state where the court considers all assets earned during the marriage to be joint assets. If you live in an equitable distribution state, like New York, the court cannot always change a final divorce agreement concerning property distribution. In those states, you are expected to do as much research as possible during the divorce process. You may, however, still be permitted to sue your ex-spouse in civil court for monetary damages.
New York Family Law Attorney
If you’re like many spouses, you enjoy limited access to relevant financial documents. That all changes when you start working with a skilled attorney. Your lawyer can make formal demands for information such as tax returns, loan applications, and financial statements. Additionally, your lawyer can seek information via interrogatories, which force your ex to provide written responses to targeted questions.