Locating hidden assets in divorce

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In a divorce, courts require parties to identify all marital assets and debts. The exact way in which this takes place can vary. However, most courts require parties to disclose their assets and debts in financial statements early in the case.

Discovery usually takes place to various degrees in a divorce as well. There could be interrogatories and requests for production propounded relate to marital assets and debt. Depositions often take place. The lawyers may also issue subpoenas.

However, some parties may, unfortunately, decide to hide marital assets in a divorce. They might hide assets with the illicit motive that if the court does not discover, they will get to retain it.

This leads many to wonder how they can find and identify hidden assets that are out there. The facts can vary in every case, but below are some common ways:

  1. Bank records can sometimes identify hidden assets. Bank statements can show money coming in and being paid from various sources that do not add up, including cash deposits and withdrawals. They can also show evidence of hidden bank accounts where one is transferring or depositing money.
  2. Tax returns can be useful in many cases in locating hidden assets. Many of the schedules that are part of the tax returns can identify the existence of assets that were not disclosed.
  3. Social media is becoming more prominent in locating hidden assets. Parties may post photos of assets like boats, vacation properties or jewelry. They also might make posts about these hidden assets.
  4. Electronic evidence such as email and text message evidence might be revealing. Parties might have emails where they get monthly statements that involve the hidden assets. They also might have electronic evidence on their devices regarding the purchase itself, including purchase agreements, sales information and statements relating to what they still owe on a note.
  5. Private investigators can sometimes help to locate hidden assets. They might be able to take photos and videos of properties, vehicles, boats and other hidden assets.
  6. Credit card statements can often be invaluable. Credit cards are sometimes the way they purchase these assets. Their spouse might not even know the credit card exists. When one has credit card debt their spouse does not know about, or other obligations, this can be problematic. When a party has hidden debt their spouse did not know about, this can be upsetting.

In the end, parties should be above-board and honest about their marital assets and debt. If the family court judge discovers that a party is being dishonest, this can be very damaging to their credibility. It can also result in a court setting aside a completed divorce to deal with the hidden assets.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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