The easiest way to get through the property division process is for both spouses to make a full and honest inventory of their assets. Once all of the assets are accounted for, it is then possible to create a fair property settlement.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for a spouse to withhold information about assets that he or she may possess. The reason for this is simple; the spouse does not want the asset or the value of that asset to become part of the settlement agreement.
There are a variety of ways in which a spouse may attempt to conceal the existence of money, property or other items of value. And the following are some of the methods commonly employed to keep marital assets away from the division process:
- Stashing money about the house, in safe deposit boxes or other locations.
- Creating fake financial transactions with friends or family members. For instance, your spouse could pretend he was paying back a loan to a friend and then get the money back after the settlement is finalized.
- Buying expensive items, such as collectibles, works of art or antiques with the hope that they will be undervalued or overlooked. After the divorce, these items can be sold for their actual value.
- Overpaying creditors or the IRS. By overpaying bills, the recipient essentially becomes a bank where the excess funds are held. Your spouse can get this money refunded after the divorce.
These are only a few of the many ways a spouse may try to keep assets hidden. And as you can imagine, delving into all the nooks and crannies where hidden assets may reside can be complicated and time-consuming.
For this reason alone, it is a good idea to enlist the services of an experienced divorce attorney. The attorney can apply forensic accounting and other tools to search for and find assets, so you have the opportunity to receive the fairest settlement possible.