Think your ex-spouse has hidden assets? Find out how your ex could be hiding assets, the penalties for doing so, and how the right divorce attorney can help.
A marriage breakdown is a terrible experience, particularly if you have children. But what makes it worse is to discover your ex-spouse hid assets from you.
Many couples sign a prenuptial agreement, but if you didn’t, you could need legal help to assure you get all the money you’re owed in your divorce settlement.
But it can be worse – an ex-spouse’s dishonesty can hurt. You feel you were lied to or cheated.
But don’t despair. How to find someone’s net worth is usually straightforward. And there are legal remedies to assure you can claim assets hidden during your divorce.
Create Rough Inventory
If you were married to someone for a long time, you may think you knew him or her pretty well. That doesn’t matter. Request your ex-spouse’s complete account and financial information. This can be done through a lawyer so it’s not too painful for you.
It’s likely your ex-spouse won’t be forthcoming. They might claim they lost this information – and it could be true. Or they might be deceptive in what they do provide.
Compose a rough inventory of what you think his or her assets are – what they had before your relationship, during your marriage and what you owed together.
This information will serve as a road map during the next step in the process.
If you think your ex-spouse withheld assets from the information he or she provided, ask the court to instigate a discovery process.
The court has tools to clarify what your ex-spouse actually owes you. The fact that anything produced for or said in court is done under oath might pressure your ex-spouse to tell the truth.
If they’re caught lying or they submit false documents, they can be charged with contempt of court or even fraud. A refusal to cooperate can also lead to a hefty fine that might deter your ex-spouse.
The court can compel your ex-partner to hand over such documents as tax returns, applications for loans, title deeds and the accounts of any business they own.
Written questions are also useful because they can’t deviate from their documented answers.
A court can also ask for oral testimony, during which your ex-spouse can be cross-examined. Ex-spouses are usually questioned after the court obtains collaborative documents.
Seek Specific Documents
Your rough inventory will give you an idea about your ex-spouse’s financial portfolio. Request documents that relate to any hunches you have about where his or her money is concealed.
You might also hear rumors from neighbors or friends about hidden properties and assets he or she might own. Perhaps when your ex-spouse’s mail was still delivered, a statement arrived from a bank you didn’t know.
Use this type of information when you consider what documents to request through the court.
A federal Form 1040 is often among the most useful information you can gather. This IRS form lists your ex-spouse’s income from wages, investments and any other income they must legally declare.
This could include income details from dividends, interest payouts, business income, capital gains, pensions, unemployment benefits and even social security payments.
The Form 1040 is often a gateway document to information worthy of further investigation. It can lead you to seek other documents.
Previous tax returns
Don’t just review tax returns from the year of your divorce. Request tax returns from the year or two before.
That’s because your ex-spouse may have realized divorce was imminent. Previous tax returns might paint a different picture of his or her financial portfolio. This would clearly indicate they tried to hide or minimize their assets before the divorce.
One trick is for an ex-spouse to overpay their taxes the previous year. They appear to have less income, but they get a refund the following year.
Voyage of Discovery
It’s easy to get wrapped up in a divorce case and feel cheated.
There are many ways an ex-spouse can potentially hide his or her assets. But if you’re confident, embarking on the discovery process can lead to a good pay off.
By thinking rationally and hunting down documents to support your case, you can claim money that’s rightfully owed to you. In the process, you’ll be vindicated by exposing your ex-spouse’s lies.
Do you think your ex-spouse hid assets from you? Please call (402) 415-2525 to book a free consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer.