A lot of high-income, high-asset divorces get stalled around the issue of how much money is really at stake in the divorce — precisely because those with a lot of wealth usually want to keep it — and they sometimes become very good at hiding it.
How do you start looking for assets or income your spouse is hiding? In the end, you’ll probably need professional help to really track things down, but you can make the task easier by compiling some information:
- The names of any third parties that might be willing to hide assets for your spouse. Close relatives, like siblings and parents, should always be considered. So should business partners, old friends and suspected romantic partners. Try to get addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers when possible.
- The names of any businesses you have heard your spouse mention or seen on paperwork around the house or office. They may be false-front entities designed just to hide assets.
- Look for sudden large “loans” that your spouse repaid, especially if those “loans” were supposedly from family or friends.
- Get your children’s information together — parents will sometimes hide assets in their children’s name in college funds, trusts or 401(k) plans they “forget” to mention in depositions.
- Your old tax returns may provide a wealth of information, including things like state and local income taxes paid in an area outside of where you live — that may indicate a shell company or a company you don’t know about that’s holding hidden assets. They may also show interest and dividend income from bonds or other accounts you didn’t know existed.
- Bank statements and credit card reports can help you find out where money is going.
- A copy of your spouse’s passport — that may reveal the location of any offshore accounts that he or she is keeping.
The important thing to remember is that you don’t want to give up — that’s exactly what your spouse is hoping you will do so that you’ll take whatever settlement is offered rather than go through all of the extra trouble of locating his or her hidden wealth.
For more information on asset location, property division and divorce, reach out with a legal advocate.
Source: FIndLaw, “Tips for Finding Hidden Assets in a Divorce,” Christopher Coble, accessed Sep. 08, 2017