My Ex Is Hiding Assets From Me

My Ex Is Hiding Assets From Me

Susan R.  Miller
 | 
Have you lied to your partner about financial matters? If so, you are not alone. A study published earlier this year by Creditcards.com finds that “51 percent of millennials have duped their partners in money matters,” by hiding a checking, savings or credit card account.
 
While some might consider that as devious as hiding an extramarital affair, trying to hide assets from your spouse during divorce proceedings can land you in a heap of legal trouble.
 
Let’s face it, money is one of the leading causes of divorce, second only to infidelity. And when a couple decides to divorce, things often get a lot testier. Before determining what you are entitled to, it’s important to understand that different states have different rules for how assets and property are divided. Generally speaking, it falls into two groups.
 
Community Property States
 
These states require a 50-50 split of all marital assets. This includes anything acquired during the marriage. It does not include anything you had before the marriage, unless you co-mingled them with marital assets.
 
In other words, let’s say you had a bank account in your name with $25,000 before you got married and you kept it separate after you got married, then it’s yours and not included in the 50-50 split. But, if you moved that money into a joint account, now you’ve mixed it with marital assets, and it likely will be considered community property. There are some exceptions to this rule, so it’s a good idea to speak with a qualified divorce/family law attorney. You might even consider getting a prenuptial agreement drawn up before you tie the knot.
 
Equitable Distribution States
 
In these states, the idea is to split everything equitably based on the circumstances of the marriage. It’s not a cut-and-dried 50-50 split. Instead, courts will look a number of different factors including how long a couple was married and what each spouse brought to the marriage.
 
So, perhaps a wife didn’t work during the marriage, but she stayed home and took care of the children so her husband could attend school. Or, as we saw during the pandemic, the wife quit her job to home-school her children while the husband continued to work. The courts will take those things into consideration.
 
Hiding Assets Can Get You in Trouble
 
Now that you have a general idea of how the distribution process works, you should know that hiding assets can get you in trouble. During divorce proceedings there is something called “discovery.” This is when information about a spouse’s financial information is gathered. During this process, both spouses are expected to turn over all relevant financial information. Sometimes, third parties (i.e., banks, employers, etc.) also are asked to do so, so don’t expect them to lie for you.
 
There’s also a good chance you will be asked to testify, under oath, about what you own. If you lie, that’s considered perjury which is a crime and can result in fines or even jail time, though that option is less likely.
 
Learning About Hidden Assets After Divorce is Finalized
 
What happens if you learn after the divorce is finalized that your spouse hid assets? You can still go back and get what you believe is yours. Your first step is to hire an attorney. He or she will investigate the matter and possibly even get the case reopened and back before a judge.
 
If you or your spouse is found to have lied about your worth, you could face serious repercussions. It’s up to a judge’s discretion. He or she may order you to split the newly discovered asset or turn over 100 percent.
 
Finding hidden assets isn’t always easy. Wealthy individuals have historically been know to hide assets in off-shore accounts. But with the rise in the use of cryptocurrency, even people who don’t have a lot of wealth are able to hide assets. This digital form of currency, the most popular being Bitcoin, makes it harder to track.
 
If you think your spouse has gone this route, an attorney can file a request with the court to get a spouse’s computer or other electronic device, or they may hire a forensic expert to help track it down. This, however, may prove costly and not worth it unless you think there’s a lot of money at stake.
 
Seek Legal Help
 
Divorce is a very emotional process and often one spouse will try to punish the other by withholding what they believe the other is not entitled to, or they simply do it out of spite to get back at a spouse.
 
While this may make you feel better, it’s not the best way to handle the distribution of assets. It’s always best to be upfront and talk to your attorney about why you think you should not have to share certain assets, or why you think your ex-spouse is hiding something from you. Being honest upfront can save you and your spouse a lot of time, money and frustration. You can find a list of divorce attorneys here.

 
This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps. 
 
 
Susan R.  Miller

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