The asset division process can be one of the most contentious parts of a divorce. Spouses work hard to acquire nice things and build a comfortable life for themselves. The way assets and debts get divided can have a big impact on the lifestyle they lead after divorce.
Sometimes, a spouse will go too far when trying to protect his or her post-divorce lifestyle. For example, some spouses try to hide assets during divorce to prevent the assets from being divided fairly. This is not only unethical, but it is also illegal.
Common ways spouses hide assets
Fortunately, if your spouse is hiding assets, there are ways for you to uncover the truth and protect your own interests. One of the best ways to do this is to understand how your spouse might try to hide assets.
Common ways individuals hide assets in divorce, include:
- Underreporting the value
- Delaying bonuses or raises
- Opening a custodial account
- Making fake debt or fake payments to a family member
- Failing to report earned cash as part of his or her income
- Paying salary to a nonexistent employee
- Paying expenses for a new love interest
- Stashing cash
However, knowing how your spouse could have hidden assets may not be enough to shed light on the truth in your situation. You and your divorce team may need to take careful steps to find proof that your spouse actually did hide assets.
Hidden assets usually leave a paper trail
If you suspect that you spouse has hidden assets, it may be a good idea to share your concerns with your divorce team before taking additional steps because the possibility of hidden assets could affect your divorce strategy. After that, you may consider searching for the paper trail that is likely to accompany any attempt to hide assets.
Some places you may look, include:
- Joint tax returns from recent years
- Bank statements
- Personal financial statements submitted as part of the loan approval process
- Business transactions
- Records from online payment systems, like PayPal
- Physical hiding places in the home
When looking in these places, try to follow the money and look for anything that seems out of place. Compare the information in your financial documents with the information your spouse listed in his or her voluntary asset disclosure. Any discrepancies could be a red flag.
Although distrust is common between divorcing couples, that does not necessarily mean that a spouse has hidden assets. However, hidden assets cannot be fairly divided during divorce, which could affect your post-divorce financial situation. If your suspect that your spouse has hidden assets, seeking guidance from a skilled Ohio divorce attorney may be the best way to protect your interests during the asset division process.