Picture a couple that has been married for 25 years: they own a home and other real estate, vehicles, stocks, retirement plans, and joint bank accounts. Let’s say they decide to divorce, but one spouse fears the other spouse is not fully transparent regarding their personal assets. In this scenario, are you the suspicious spouse? The discovery of hidden assets in divorce requires the expertise of skilled attorneys like the award-winning team at Fait & DiLima, LLP.
Red Flags That A Spouse Is Hiding Assets
Some typical behaviors that may indicate your spouse is concealing assets include:
- Passwords are changed on bank accounts
- Financial documents are hidden or destroyed
- Money is transferred from shared marital accounts to individual accounts
- Money is given to friends and family (with the intent that it will be returned after the divorce)
- Property is transferred to a relative or friend (to be transferred back to your spouse following the divorce)
- Jewelry, art, and other expensive items go missing from the home
- Opening a safe deposit box
- Vehicles are sold, and the proceeds deposited into your spouse’s personal account
- Trusts are set up outside of the country
- For business owners: the spouse “cooks the books” by registering less income and increased expenses
How Do You Uncover Hidden Assets In A Divorce?
Unless you are a mind-reader or a detective, you cannot track down every action your spouse takes to shield money. For example, your spouse may have opened secret bank accounts in other states, opened a cryptocurrency account, or bought non-fungible tokens – how would you ever know?
However, an experienced hidden assets attorney uses several legal methods to uncover the truth. Your divorce attorney can:
- Require your spouse to provide payment stubs, bank statements, tax records, business paperwork, and other financial documents
- Submit written questions to your spouse that he or she must answer under oath
- Ask your spouse questions in a deposition, which your spouse must answer in court
- Demand to inspect your spouse’s property or assets
In addition, your divorce attorney may work with forensics accountants, law enforcement, and other professionals to assess financial inconsistencies and trace hidden accounts and property. Together, this group will analyze financial records for irregularities, search for secret trusts and accounts, and appraise assets and properties. If needed, your divorce attorney will bring these experts to court to provide testimony on their findings.
What Happens When A Divorcing Spouse Hides Assets?
Maryland is an equitable distribution state – marital property is not split equally in a divorce. The court decides how the assets will be divided.
If your spouse successfully hides assets, the money or property will not be included in the list of items for the court to review. You may suspect your spouse has concealed assets, but the judge cannot allocate you a share of any asset if it isn’t mentioned in the documents submitted to the court. Therefore, before your case comes to court, you must hire a hidden assets attorney with experience in financial forensics to investigate on your behalf.
It is illegal to hide assets during a divorce. Failure to disclose assets or an attempt to devalue them can result in perjury, contempt of court, and other legal charges.
Note that some categories of marital property are excluded from being divided in a divorce settlement because they are not shared assets. These categories include property acquired by either spouse before the marriage; inheritances and gifts from third parties to either spouse; property already excluded by valid agreement; and any property directly traceable to any of these sources.
Can You Sue Your Spouse For Hiding Money?
After the divorce, if you discover your ex-spouse hid assets, you may wish to sue your ex-spouse in civil court for monetary damages. Your divorce agreement may need to be amended as well. When considering which divorce lawyers in Rockville, Maryland, should handle your case, make sure they are knowledgeable about finding hidden assets and are prepared to take legal action after the settlement, if necessary.
Fait & DiLima, LLP: Bold Approaches, Effective Resolutions
An online search for “divorce lawyers near me” brings up many options. You want a skilled law firm that understands your concerns and has a strategic plan to prepare your case for the best possible outcome. With more than 50 years of collective legal experience in family law, the team at Fait & DiLima is both compassionate and committed to advocating fiercely for our clients. Our attorneys have successfully represented thousands of people like you in divorce cases involving hidden assets.
Contact us today at (301) 251-0100 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation. Our offices are located in Rockville and Frederick, and we serve clients throughout Maryland and in the District of Columbia. For your convenience, we also offer online meetings.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.