Hiding assets in divorce
Dishonesty in divorce?
Divorce sometimes brings out the worst in people and on occasion this involves one spouse hiding assets. More and more, clients are telling me that they are suspicious that this has occurred in their own divorce and ask what they can do to uncover the truth.
I must point out that quite often the hunch that your Ex was motivated to hide money stems from comments from family or friends and in these cases is quite often unfounded. Do not let your emotions get the best of you! Nevertheless, when you have legitimate reason or proof to believe that your spouse has hidden assets, you and your lawyer must consider how this would actually occur.
There are really two different considerations when reviewing this possible scenario:
Hiding money personally (i.e. through other personal assets)– this is often easier for a lay person or professional to at least attempt to trace (I have done this to some extent on a few occasions).
Through a spouse’s business interest – this may involve but is not limited to: inter–family dealings, sudden appearance of out–of–the–ordinary expenses or salaries, new or hidden bank accounts, delaying or retaining income, unreported transactions, large one-time purchases written off, sudden declines in business performance.
Unfortunately, in the latter instance or in years of planning and personally hiding money, the services of a forensic accountant are most often required to uncover the truth. Most lawyers would caution the process is extremely expensive and very lengthy and should only be undertaken in cases where there is a reasonable degree of certainty that very, very significant sums of money have been hidden.
Remember that no one can force your spouse to be honest and forthcoming. Lying is always possible in the absence of integrity.