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How to Discover Hidden Assets
I am getting a divorce and my husband is the ultimate sneak. How can I discover all of the money and other assets that he has hidden from me?
Once the divorce case starts many people go berserk and they will hide as much of their assets and money as possible. Moreover, many people have planned their divorce for many years before they actually file for one. During their planning stage it is not uncommon for a person to try to hide as much of their assets as possible. Many devious spouses have secret accounts. Some spouses may transfer assets to family members or to paramours. Finally, some spouses may even resort to transferring assets overseas. Nonetheless, don't expect that your ex-spouse is going to be benevolent in your divorce and just hand you over bags full of money. Life just doesn't work that way! Therefore, you should be fully aware of the methods and resources that can be used to help you avoid being victimized by a spouse who is hiding assets.
Here are the best tips to bust your spouse if he is hiding assets and money from you in your divorce.
Review your spouse's tax returns.
You should always carefully review your spouse's tax returns. During the discovery process of the case you should always request three to five years of tax returns. Your spouse may be emboldened to try to hide money from you. However, most people get terrified at the prospect of hiding money from Uncle Sam and the IRS. Your spouse will most likely honest on his tax return because he does not want to face any strict IRS penalties, fines and even a prison sentence for any tax fraud. Even a sneaky husband who is trying to hide income from you is going to think twice about hiding money from the IRS. Therefore, you should try to obtain at least five years of tax returns from your spouse. When you review the tax returns, you should pay careful attention to all of the income that is listed on the tax return for any investments such as stocks, partnerships, joint ventures, etc. Moreover, you should analyze the return for any losses that are listed.
Obtain and review any checking account statements and cancelled checks.
It is also important to obtain your spouse's banking records during the discovery process. You should obtain all copies of your spouse's financial accounts during discovery. You would be surprised how much information you could obtain by reviewing your spouse's cancelled checks. You could find a cancelled check for a purchase you never were aware about, such as an investment property, an overseas financial investment, etc. If you should uncover a hidden asset(s) this could make a sizable difference in your divorce settlement.
Review your spouse's savings account statements.
You should also review your spouse's savings accounts deposit and withdrawal slips. If you review the deposit and withdraw slips then this could lead you to a hidden asset such as an undisclosed mutual fund account or stocks and bonds. If you should notice any unusual withdrawals or deposits then you can undertake further discovery of this account. Moreover, it is important to emphasize that you should make copies of all of your spouse's financial records before you separate.
Review any loan or mortgage application(s) from your spouse.
Another important source to uncover any hidden assets is to review any loan or mortgage application(s) that were completed by your spouse. Most banks want you to put up your unborn child as collateral for any loan. If your spouse has borrowed money from a bank or mortgage company, then his loan application should list all of his accounts, mutual fund accounts, and stock accounts. A person completes a loan application to obtain money from a bank or for a mortgage. Any loan application will also list all of the assets that a person owns. Moreover, the application will also have a summary of the values of all of the assets owned by your spouse. In summary, you should be able to get a fair assessment of your spouse's portfolio and of his other assets if you obtain and review his mortgage applications.
Don't forget to contact the tax assessor's office.
You would be surprised but I have had cases wherein a spouse has owned houses and other real property and he has failed to disclose them to his wife. If your spouse is a major sneak then you should run a title search and ascertain if your spouse owns any other types of real estate in New Jersey. Moreover, you can obtain any real estate information that you spouse may own from the local tax assessor's office. The tax assessor could provide you with the address of the property that your spouse may own. Moreover, the tax assessor could also provide you with an assessed value of the property.
Your spouse's boss may help him hide assets.
I have had many cases wherein a person's boss has helped him hide his assets during a divorce. A boss might be convinced to not give an earned bonus to your husband until after the divorce is finalized. Moreover, in many cases stock options, retirement benefits or pay raises can be delayed until after the divorce is finalized. If pay raises are delayed then this could drastically effect any child support or alimony calculations. Therefore, you should always be vigilant to try to uncover any hidden or delayed pay raises, deferred compensation, or bonuses.
Your spouse could have friends or family help him hide assets.
Finally, I have handled many cases wherein a devious spouse will use a friend or a relative to help him hide his assets. A very common scheme is that a person will fabricate a debt to a friend or a relative. This scheme will enable your spouse to keep a larger share of the marital estate.
In New Jersey, a separation agreement is any legal document signed by both spouses outlining the terms of the separation. Subjects resolved in a separation agreement can include child support, child custody, debt allocation and asset distribution. Notarizing the document ensures its validity, since there is no such case-type in New Jersey that provides for a "legal separation." Spouses wanting child support during the separation period, however, must file a claim with the New Jersey probation department.
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Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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