An important aspect of reaching a fair divorce settlement is to determine the total value of the assets the divorcing couple holds. That can be difficult when one partner is attempting to conceal assets for the purpose of keeping them from being divided with the ex-spouse. For that reason, a thorough investigation into the finances of both partners is necessary, but what happens when one partner is the “out spouse” and has limited access to all of the financial records?
Beginning The Divorce Discovery Process
This phase of the divorce starts from the premise that both parties are sharing all information equally. Unfortunately, that sharing of information can often be one-sided and the out-spouse must rely on her or his attorney to acquire the necessary documents through a process called discovery. There are several different tactics lawyers can use on behalf of their clients to ensure all information has been shared.
First, document demands require the spouse to supply requested documents, even where he or she may previously have delayed in responding. Documents such as tax records, financial statements, loan applications, and account statements are primary concerns with this type of request.
Interrogatories constitute another method for gathering information and are frequently used in divorce proceedings. This involves the set of written questions, often called a “request for admissions,” in which the spouse must supply written answers. There may also be items on this list which ask the spouse to confirm or deny a supposition and, also, in this case, the spouse must provide a truthful, written answer.
A third option involves a demand for an inspection of the spouse’s property. Typically, this involves an inspection of a specific item or area, as opposed to a search of an entire property. Examples might be inspecting the contents of a safe deposit box or a wine collection.
Finally, a spouse can be compelled to give oral testimony in court. This type of hearing involves a formal proceeding in the presence of the judge and court reporter. The spouse must answer questions posed by you and your attorneys in front of the judge, which creates a more formal setting and makes it less likely that the spouse will attempt to conceal facts. In many ways, this is enough to compel uncooperative spouses to admit the truth about assets he or she may previously have attempted to hide, during a search for hidden assets.
A Deeper Look at Your Spouse’s Holdings
Finding hidden assets after divorce may be more difficult, considering they have been concealed well enough to elude the discovery process. That said, it’s not entirely impossible and, if you’re determined to uncover the truth, a little hard work may be all that’s required. It will require access to your spouse’s accounts, both the ones he/she shared jointly with you and any sole accounts he/she maintains.
For instance, monitoring your spouse’s accounts and the transfer of sums from account to account may lead to the discovery of previously hidden accounts. By examining the transactions of savings, checking, brokerage, and trust accounts, as well as any other accounts maintained by your spouse, it may be possible to discover transactions to accounts which your spouse has neglected to reveal.
Additionally, a request for canceled checks and wire transfer records can illuminate previous transactions on accounts that have not been accessed, since the initial divorce filing. This kind of investigating can uncover a hidden savings account with a stash of money tucked away for a rainy day or it might uncover a “gift” of cash given to a friend or relative. These kinds of gifts are done to hide money, until after a divorce settlement is finalized. Afterwards, the sum is returned to the spouse.
Are hidden assets discoverable, following the divorce? Many times, a spouse is able to uncover hidden assets, such as unrevealed bank accounts in a short interval after the legal proceedings. Sometimes, a spouse may already suspect her ex-spouse has been doing business at a financial institution that didn’t come up during the discovery phase. Perhaps she saw him going into the bank or found a deposit receipt from a previously unknown bank. However that suspicion is raised, she may want to follow through and learn the exact details of her ex-spouse’s relationship with that financial institution.
Instead of going through the ex-spouse, the best approach may be to subpoena the bank, itself. When ordered by the court, the financial institution must supply copies of all records associated with the spouse’s name. Banks are unlikely to resist this in an effort to protect their customer’s privacy because doing so will bring contempt of court charges against the bank.
Once the records are obtained, carefully study the details of the transactions to uncover unknown account numbers. Also, a large transaction into or out of the account can lead to other hidden accounts at more unknown institutions. If this happens to be the case, a subpoena to that newly discovered bank can lead to uncovering more concealed assets.
The end of a marriage is devastating on an emotional level, but it also creates a major upheaval of every aspect of your life. From parenting to your career, nothing is left unaffected by the break-up of a marriage. For that reason alone, it’s necessary to ensure you receive an adequate settlement, giving you everything to which you are entitled. While divorce may bring out the ugly side of both you and your spouse, it’s important to remember that you need a fair settlement to maintain your living situation and ensure a good future for any children produced by the marriage. If you’re faced with the prospect of a divorce, it’s important to enlist the services of an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible. Only someone knowledgeable of divorce tactics will know what to watch for and how to prevent a spouse from taking advantage of the situation. In the end, you’ll be relieved to have the expertise of a professional advocate.