Divorce: Hidden Assets
In a divorce case, marital property is split according to state law and principles of equity. What if one spouse is hiding assets from the other during a divorce? This can affect the total amount of property to be split during the proceedings. It can be especially difficult for the spouse who did not handle the finances during the marriage to find out banking and credit card information.
Much of this needed financial information can be obtained during the discovery process. When a divorce case is filed, each side is allowed to make reasonable requests for information from the other side. If one party refuses to produce any requested information, the party seeking it can request a court order requiring the party who has withheld information to provide it. If that party still refuses to provide the requested information, he or she may be held liable for contempt, which is punishable by fines, dismissal of your spouse’s legal action or even jail in some cases.
Different types of information can be gathered using the discovery process. It is possible to request copies of documents such as tax records, credit card statements, bank statements and other financial records. In some cases, it might make more sense to request inspection of property, such as materials contained in a safe or a safety deposit box. It is also possible to take testimony via an oral or written deposition. A person who is under oath during a deposition has sworn to tell the truth, and failure to do so is a crime known as perjury.
Reviewing tax returns is usually a good place to start when determining a spouse’s income. Comparing these records to bank records, public records and credit card statements can help uncover discrepancies. It’s important to request information about any gifts or loans made to family and friends, especially during the months prior to the divorce. It’s common for a spouse who wants to hide assets to collude with family in friends. For example, a spouse may transfer property to another person’s name that they intend to get back after the divorce is finalized.
Hiring an attorney can make the process easier, as an attorney can make use of discovery procedures. If your spouse refuses to comply with any of the requests, an attorney can help you enforce those requests to the fullest extent of the law. Don’t get caught up in a messy divorce by yourself, contact our team today for a free consultation.