You start going through your financial records when your spouse asks for a divorce, and it's quickly clear that this is going to be a complex process. A lot of things just do not add up. Assets appear to be missing. The numbers don't match what you thought you had.
As you look through it, you start to think that your spouse has been trying to hide assets. It's going to take time to sort out, and you're suddenly worried that some of those assets may be gone forever. How do you dig through it all and ensure that you get what you really deserve out of the divorce? It starts with understanding how people hide assets and where to look.
1. Income deception
In many marriages, one spouse takes care of the bills and the money, without much input from the other. If you were the second spouse, are you sure your spouse was being honest about how much money they made? One way that people hide assets is by lying about them.
For instance, your spouse may have gotten a significant raise three years ago but decided to hide all of the new income, never telling you about the raise. At the time of the divorce, you don't even notice that the money is missing because you never knew it was supposed to be there to start with.
2. Giving to friends
Another way to hide money is to temporarily get rid of it, perhaps by giving it to a friend whom they can trust to give it back after the divorce. For instance, your spouse may suddenly claim to remember an old debt to a college friend and then pay the "debt" back. That debt never existed. Your spouse just plans to get divorced with fewer assets and then get the money back in a few months.
3. Forgetting to mention seldom-used accounts
Your spouse needs to disclose all of the family's financial assets during the divorce, but he or she could conveniently "forget" about some accounts that you don't use very often. This could include a retirement account that gets automatic contributions from every paycheck, for instance.
It could include an investment portfolio that they created decades ago and allowed to run without any alterations. While you may easily notice if a main bank account was missing, you may not realize that your spouse didn't mention these more obscure accounts. Without doing anything, your spouse hides that money.
Working through it
These are just three examples; there are hundreds of ways people may hide assets. Your case will become complex and you must know all of the legal steps to take to work through it.