A full and complete disclosure of assets is necessary in order for a divorce to be fair. If your spouse is hiding assets, this will negatively impact your property award in the divorce because the court will not be aware of the hidden assets and will not be able to divide them in your divorce.
Here are some of the most common warning signs that your spouse is hiding assets.
- Your spouse is suddenly defensive and secretive. Although this is common in a divorce, if you notice your spouse is suddenly acting defensive and is being very controlling and secretive, this could be because they are trying to keep assets from being revealed. If something feels off, listen to your instincts.
- They change addresses on accounts. If your spouse changes the mailing address on accounts or statements so that they do not continue to come to your joint home, this could be a sign that they are trying to keep you and the court from accessing all of the information about assets in the case. Opening a post office box is also a similar strategy that will keep statements and information from coming to your joint home.
- They spend more than usual. A spouse who suddenly is spending more than is normal may be draining assets and converting them to possessions. For example, if there is a saving account, piece of real estate, or an investment you are unaware of, your spouse may drain the account or sell the asset and use the cash to buy items that are harder to discover or trace (such as jewelry, art, or clothing).
- Your spouse makes overpayments. Overpaying taxes, credit cards, or loan payments is a way to redirect hidden marital or separate funds. Once the divorce is over, your spouse will then owe less from their separate post-divorce assets.
- They delete financial accounting software. If you and your spouse have used financial accounting programs to manage your finances and your spouse suddenly deletes it cancels the subscription, this could be an attempt to keep you from accessing financial information so that you do not discover hidden information.
- They change passwords. Your spouse might change passwords and logins to financial accounts or to financial recordkeeping software. Doing so might be a way to prevent you from learning about secretive accounts or seeing suspicious activity.
- They make sudden withdrawals. If you notice unusual withdrawals from joint accounts, this may be activity by your spouse designed to remove marital assets and hide them.
- They give a lot of gifts. Your spouse might give lavish “gifts” to friends or family. These could be an attempt to remove assets from marital accounts or separate accounts they are concerned you will learn about. The family member or friend may simply hold the asset until the divorce is over and then return it to your spouse.
- They suddenly are making payments on loans you didn’t know about. Your spouse might fabricate the existence of new loans as a way to siphon money out of joint accounts or separate accounts you are aware of.
- Your spouse suddenly travels out of the country. Trips out of the country may occur in order to move assets to countries where it is difficult to discover them.
- They make changes in their business. If your spouse owns a business and is suddenly buying or selling things, reconfiguring the corporate structure, or changing how they operate, this may be a sign they are working to conceal the business’s assets or income so that it cannot be accurately accounted for in the divorce.
- They have unusual business expenses. Your spouse might create business expenses, not seek reimbursement for them from their employer, and hold onto the receipts to seek reimbursement after the divorce is finalized. This keeps those funds from being considered and divided in the divorce.
- Their business is suddenly doing poorly. When a previously thriving business experiences a sudden downturn during a divorce, there is reason to suspect it is intentional to shield income from the divorce.
- They start a new business venture. Opening a new business can be a way to redirect assets and create losses, concealing their true net worth for the purpose of getting more in the divorce.
- They open new accounts with different financial institutions. Creating new accounts or taking out new loans are a way to move assets and muddy the waters of the financial accounting so that assets can escape notice during the divorce.
- New accounts are opened for minor children. Your spouse may open new accounts for children of your marriage, or children of their previous relationships. Assets can be placed into the accounts to remove them from consideration during the divorce and then withdrawn at a future date.
- Financial records are suddenly lost. If records disappear without warning or there is a reported or real suspicious fire, flood, or another damaging event that doesn’t seem to make sense, this could be an attempt by your spouse to make it difficult for you to find assets.
- Valuable tangible assets disappear. Items such as jewelry, art, collectibles, vehicles, and more might suddenly disappear, or your spouse may claim they have been stolen. This could be an attempt by your spouse to reduce the total amount of marital assets available for division in the divorce.
- Payments or bonuses aren’t received as scheduled. Your spouse may attempt to delay payments or bonuses they are due until after the divorce is finalized so that they will not be included in the assets that are divided by the court.
If you notice or suspect any of the behavior described above, it is imperative that you let your divorce attorney know as quickly as possible.