Ways to Discover Hidden Assets During a Divorce

Despite complications to the marriage, most people enter the divorce process believing their soon to be ex-spouse is an honest person. However, this is not always the situation. The fact is, dishonesty is a common reason for seeking a divorce. Regardless, even if you have no reason to suspect your former partner is a liar, there is still good cause to be curious and concerned about their finances heading into a divorce.

Once a divorce begins, many people will do whatever it takes to conceal and hold on to what they believe is their money. Moreover, some will even create secret accounts, or perform other financial actions, during the course of the whole marriage. Discovering these hidden assets, during a divorce, is the only way to ensure you receive a fair settlement.

You should never rely entirely on your spouse’s financial affidavit. The good news is an experienced divorce attorney has many tools at their disposal often including a forensic accountant or other investigators and can uncover most everything during the discovery process.

In today’s world, many couples have very complicated and difficult to understand financial portfolios that may include retirement plans, stocks, vacation properties, and more. Regardless, deception is often easily discoverable. The hiding places are predictable. These are some of the more common:

1. Family and Friends – Your ex-spouse may conspire with family or good friends. This is often done by making payments for imaginary items or services, then getting reimbursed after the divorce. An experienced attorney will scrutinize payments made by both personal and business accounts.

2. Fake Employees – Having a fake employee on the payroll is a common technique for concealing the money generated by a business. While your ex-spouse may think they are being slick, an audit of their payroll will uncover the truth.

3. Unreported Income – Does your ex-spouse work in a cash business? Some people believe they can keep their true income hidden by excluding revenue from their financial statements. However, lifestyle costs often reveal the truth.

4. Collectibles – One way to hide money is investing in antiques and artwork, or even comic books and baseball cards. These items are often bought over the course of the marriage, and then the value is under-reported during the divorce.

5. Delayed Compensation – Your ex-spouse’s stock options, raises, and bonuses are all included in a divorce. However, if your ex-spouse has a friendly boss, they can conspire to delay promotions or payments of bonuses.

6. Custodial Accounts – One of the most devious methods of hiding money is setting up a custodial account in the name of one of their children. While this is hiding assets from the court, they are basically gifting the assets to their child. This can mean, if they eventually take the money back, they are stealing.

If you’re considering divorce and have concerns about the possibility of hidden assets, we encourage you to call our office and schedule an appointment.

Massachusetts Family Law Regarding Separation

If you and your spouse are thinking it is time for a separation, there are some factors you should consider in order to make sure this is not only the right step for your family but also done in accordance of the law. Before any decisions are made, it would be beneficial to consult a divorce and family law attorney to help you fully understand the legal implications and consequences of filing any official documentation to separate assets.

In the state of Massachusetts, there is no judgement for a true legal separation. However, if one spouse seeks support from another spouse and does not want to file for divorce, he or she can file for a judgement of separate support. This would allow for child support payments to begin as well as alimony.

Because Massachusetts does not provide a way for a legal separation, the process for filing for separate support can be a lengthy and complicated one. The method and burden of proving that the spouse should receive support is not always easy, and if a mistake is made, it could cost you and your family in the long run.

Before deciding that a separation of any kind is in order, both spouses should be confident that this is the right thing to do for the family. Some couples choose marital counseling in order to try everything possible to save the marriage.

If no resolution can be reached to remain together, the next legal step could be a mediation process in order to reach a legal and binding agreement for support. Mediation is often a preferred option as it typically costs less than a court proceeding, and the participants have more options to settle disputes in a respectable way. However, if mediation is chosen, it is a good idea to seek legal representation to protect your interests and your rights.

If you have questions or would like to consider a separation with your spouse, please call our law office to schedule a consultation.