During divorce proceedings, spouses may fight intensely to secure an advantage in the process and outcome. Trying to walk away with more marital property than the other person receives is a common goal in highly contentious divorces.
Some people might start planning even before they file for divorce to twist the outcome in their favor. Hiding assets is one way to affect the outcome of a divorce. If you think your spouse might be capable of that kind of underhanded tactic, there are three steps that you should take to look for hidden assets before you file for divorce, if possible.
1. Get copies of financial records, like taxes and pay stubs
If your spouse has tried to hide certain assets from you for months or possibly the length of your marriage, there may be financial documentation of their behavior that you haven’t noticed because you don’t scrutinize their paychecks or file the household taxes.
Getting copies of pay records, tax filings, and other financial documents will help or possibly a financial professional like a forensic accountant to locate the signs of a hidden account or frequent cash withdrawals during the marriage.
2. Pay attention to what your spouse has purchased in recent months
One of the easiest ways to hide value during a divorce is to take marital assets and convert them to property that may not initially seem valuable. If your spouse has made several large purchases, they may intend to return some of that property later in order to convert those hidden assets back to liquid capital.
It is also worth looking at any physical assets that your spouse has given away or sold without consulting you recently. They may have done this to diminish the value of the marital estate. They may plan to get those items back after you finish your divorce, so figuring out what they are worth now is a smart move.
3. Look into items your spouse knows you don’t typically care about
If your spouse has a thing for designer shoes, original works of abstract art or collectible sports memorabilia, you likely have no interest in their hobby or the additions they’ve made to it during your marriage.
It’s important that you realize that collections and hobbies can hide tens of thousands of dollars worth of marital property value. You want to know the value of assets that your spouse acquired during your marriage even if you have no intention of asking for those assets.
After all, regardless of whether you want the item or not, you should receive a fair share of its value as part of the marital estate.