If you know you’re going to be getting a divorce soon, then you may want to start tracking marital finances. Not only is this necessary to your divorce, it’s also a prudent measure to take so you can see if your spouse has any hidden assets tucked away. Being attentive to the relevant financial details can help ensure that your divorce settlement is fair to you.
A hidden asset is one that isn’t readily visible in normal accounting records because all usual signs of ownership have been concealed through complicated measures. Diligence and thorough preparation go a long way towards tracing assets which are deliberately disguised by a spouse. Information and involvement are critical for discovering hidden assets. Hidden assets are mostly liquid in nature; examples are bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The reason why they’re usually liquid is because this type of asset can be easily transferred into the name of a relative, friend, or business entity. Sometimes the funds are transferred into accounts in offshore banks where they cannot be touched under the laws of the country of residence.
Hidden assets are especially important in divorce settlements because one of the parties in a divorce may have tried to hide certain assets. If a court doesn’t know about an asset, it can’t force that person to share it with their spouse. Since both spouses lawfully have claim to all marital property for purposes of a divorce settlement, hiding assets is illegal.
A good way to start the task of tracing hidden assets is to establish a methodical plan to study all financial records. In general, look for things that don’t add up. For example, if an asset is initially present in documents but suddenly seems to have disappeared then it’s possible that it was diverted into some other unknown account. Here are more examples of good places to look. Old financial statements may help identify suspicious transactions. ATM activity can throw light on cash which may have been placed in some hidden account. In particular, getting a credit report on your spouse is a good idea because it may contain information on financial accounts or credit unknown to you. Some clues to find hidden assets:
If you are fairly sure that your spouse has hidden assets, then it may be a good idea to engage an experienced attorney to help you find them.