How to Shine a Light on Hidden Divorce Assets

According to Forbes Magazine, divorce may actually be dirtier than we previously imagined. A recent survey showed that one in three Americans (31%) admit to lying to their spouses about money, and that is while they are still combining their resources! Imagine the subterfuge as a divorce commences.

The Huffington Post also reports that soon-to-be-exes are finding ways to shine a light on hidden (or almost hidden) assets:

“For better or worse, the reality is when marriage gets tough people often hide money. Regardless of their wedding vows, many couples experience such breakdown in their marriages that they rationalize and justify building a secret financial stash in anticipation of divorce… Often such funds are surreptitiously held offshore or transferred to a family member or friend. Other strategies involve safe-deposit boxes, secret stock brokerage accounts, investment accounts and so on. In today’s highly advanced technological world most records have gone electronic, therefore hiding large sums of money is no longer as easy as it may have once been.”

An Electronic Trail

Karen Granger and her husband Kyle had always shared finances. Still, as they stood on the verge of a divorce, Karen began to wonder whether Kyle had been 100% honest. Her investigation began easily enough. First, she checked a newly open Twitter account in his name and found him bragging about an upcoming ski vacation and fabulous new ATV. Since Kyle was still living in the marital home, Karen managed to have a friend install software on the family computer that tracked his search history and even recorded his passwords. Creepy? Maybe a little, but the spyware convinced her that Kyle had been putting money into two online savings accounts for more than two years.

Discovering a Long Term Lie

Sharon Resin always thought it was odd that Sam, her husband of nearly 30 years, had no retirement plan at work. Her dad had once worked for the same company; back then, the retirement plan was awesome. Still, the economy had changed and pensions had disappeared. Sharon tried not to think about how much they would have tucked away if only Sam had saved some each month. It wasn’t until her divorce attorney demanded to see company records regarding Sam’s employment that Sharon learned that her husband had been sitting on quite a nest egg – half of which was now hers.

Smartphones

Linda Smart travelled extensively for work, a possible reason for the breakdown of her marriage to David. In spite of being married for more than a decade, the couple never talked much about finances. A friend recommended that David take a closer look at Linda’s smartphone while she packed some of her belongings for another trip. In the texts, David found that his wife had been secretly transferring money to her sister to hold until after the divorce.

The Essential Value of Involving a Qualified Divorce Attorney

While it may feel odd for you to become a superspy, snooping on someone you once loved, you need to protect your finances and assets. Your attorney might ask you to catalogue your finances exhaustively, asking questions like:

  • Do you and your ex-spouse have any safe deposit boxes or other places where important information or assets might be stashed?
  • Did your ex underreport income on tax returns or financial statements?
  • Did your ex overpay the IRS or creditors, planning to get a refund after the divorce?
  • Did your ex defer salary, delay signing new contracts and/or ask an employer to hold commissions or bonuses?
  • Did he or she create a phony debt to create a cover for missing money?
  • Did your ex set up a custodial account in the name of a child, using that child’s social security number?
  • Did he or she transfer stock without your knowledge?

If you’re worried about how to track and protect your assets during a potentially contentious divorce, call us at (540) 656-2210 for a strategic and comprehensive consultation about your options.

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Select Law Partners, PLLC

Legal issues can turn your life upside down. Our experienced attorneys serve clients in a variety of divorce and family law matters as well as criminal defense. To better help you plan for the future, we have significant experience with estate planning and asset protection. At Select Law, we provide our clients with customized solutions to their most challenging problems.

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