The Search for Hidden Assets in your Divorce…Divorce can be a contentious process. Rather than fight fairly and legally, some individuals do think they can skirt the system by hiding assets to avoid high alimony and child support payments. I’ve been a New Jersey divorce attorney for nearly 20 years and have seen this type of behavior in both high-net worth divorces and those involving more typical standards of living.
If you have discovered that your spouse or ex-spouse is or has hidden assets, you need a competent divorce and family law attorney. The deception is not only unethical but illegal and must be brought to the attention of the court. Likewise, if you have been accused of hiding assets, legal representation is essential to protect your rights. In either situation, it is urgent to consult with legal counsel.
If you are in the divorce process, and you think your spouse may try to hide assets, you should educate yourself about your finances immediately. Start collecting documents as soon as possible. Make a list of all possible sources of income, all places where financial vehicles can be kept, and any property of substantial value. Take close notice of what statements are already delivered to the house from financial institutions. Additionally, go back into your financial files and take note of statements that are no longer being sent home. Look for unusual and/or large ATM withdrawls, check-use and purchases for items that you have not seen. Often it is a good idea to put firm agreements into place as soon as the divorce process starts especially when your spouse can do some financial maneuvering with a few clicks of a computer mouse and your money can vanish before your eyes.
Additionally, your divorce will go through a period of discovery during which time your attorney will have the ability to depose witnesses and request of information directly from your spouse or another party such as his/her employer. If all financial documents are not voluntarily shared, the withholder can find themselves in significant legal trouble.
A skilled legal team has many avenues to pursue, including an audit if your spouse owns a business or the interrogation of his company’s personnel office for specifics regarding current and future compensation agreements. Forensic and business accountants can be employed to review and search for assets. Additionally, personal investigators may be helpful. A good divorce attorney will keep all investigations legal employing high tech methods of detection while getting all the necessary information.
If you are already divorced and have discovered an asset was hidden during your divorce process, your divorce can be reopened and modified based on the fraud. With the guidance of an attorney, you should legally gather as much evidence as possible. For instance, you may notice on LinkedIn that your ex-spouse just purchased a new business even thought they claimed poverty during your divorce.
While we can never predict with certainty how a court of law will handle a case when assets have been determined to be hidden, it is our experience that judges are rarely happy when evidence points in the direction of deception. If you think your spouse is hiding assets or an ex-spouse may have illegally withheld information during your divorce, our team of attorneys can walk you through the process to legally protect your rights. Call us today at (732) 246-0909 for a free consultation.