Dealing With a Spouse Who Has Hidden Assets
Often, it takes a number of years for an unhappy couple to decide to divorce. During this time, one spouse may be planning for an eventual split by setting aside assets, despite the fact that the other spouse may have some legal claim to an account or investment their spouse creates. You may find yourself in the position of the “out spouse.” This term is used by divorce attorneys to refer to a spouse who has not been involved in financial decisions or bill-paying, and therefore would not be able to confidently list all the accounts or assets owned by the couple. As an out spouse, you may not have a complete understanding of your entire financial state, but with the help of an experienced attorney, you can gain a better understanding of ways that your ex may be hiding money.
Help your attorney ask the right questions.
At the beginning of the divorce process, you and your spouse will each need to make full and complete financial disclosures to the court. If you feel that those disclosures are not entirely accurate, or that they paint your spouse as being penniless when you know they’re not, you can use the discovery process to try to learn more. Discovery is the phase of a case where each party must answer questions asked by the other party, and produce documents that the other side requests. Your attorney will be even more effective at requesting the right records if you provide assistance in the form of your knowledge of your spouse’s finances. For example, if you remember your spouse discussing performance bonuses that don’t appear on the financial disclosure, or if income from the sale of a large asset you owned with your spouse isn’t reflected in the records, mention it to your lawyer, so that they know what to look for.
A forensic accountant might be needed.
If your spouse has turned over a number of financial records, but they still don’t agree with what you knew of the household’s finances, then a forensic accountant may be able to help you determine where the assets have gone, and whether your spouse’s representations about expenses and income match with the documents. The accountant can also review past tax returns, which can be used to show current earning abilities and can also alert the out spouse to forthcoming tax refunds, a portion of which may be theirs.
There are serious consequences for lying to the court.
Whenever either you or your ex makes a statement to the court, you’re avowing that the statement is true and accurate, to the best of your understanding. If it turns out that your ex’s financial disclosure wasn’t complete after all, that means they lied to the court and could be in very hot water. By hiring a skilled and determined attorney at the outset who understands how to find undisclosed funds and accounts, you can show your former spouse that you mean business, and that they’d be better served by coming clean now, before they face charges for perjury.
If you are seeking a compassionate and experienced attorney for your New Jersey divorce, contact the Union offices of John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation on your case, at 908-964-0102.