HIDDEN ASSETS: IS YOUR SPOUSE TRYING TO GAIN THE UPPER HAND?
California is one of nine states that operate under community property laws in divorce. This means that the judge overseeing your case will assume that your marital assets and liabilities will be split 50/50 between you and your spouse. If you are both on reasonably good terms and you just want to achieve a fair settlement and move on with your lives, there may not be anything to worry about.
However, if you have reason to believe that your spouse is angry or plotting financial revenge against you, either because of past hurts or simply to get back at you for calling it quits in your marriage, you may want to keep your eyes and ears open, especially if you think an asset-hiding scheme is underway. Note: hiding assets to keep them from being subject to property division is unlawful
Red flag issues that warrant further investigation
In the eyes of the court, suspecting that your spouse is up to no good is not the same thing as being able to prove it. The following list includes issues that suggest you may be dealing with a hidden asset problem:
- Did your spouse overpay on his or her most recent tax returns? This is a common tactic many spouses use to hide assets.
- If you knew that your spouse was up for a raise at work and are surprised to learn that the employer has delayed the raise or other incentive or bonus pay, it is definitely concerning enough to ask your spouse why he or she requested the delay — or have your attorney ask.
- If your spouse has unexpectedly opened a bank account for one or more of your children, it may be part of a hidden asset scheme.
- Checking your bank statements is critical if you suspect that your spouse is trying to hide money. If there are withdrawals from an account you jointly own and you were not aware they were made, it is cause for investigation.
- Has your spouse been giving money to family members or friends, claiming to be paying back a loan you didn’t know about? Similarly, has your spouse given money to others and claims he or she has made a loan?
These are often signs that a spouse is trying to stash money away until after the court finalizes a divorce. In fact, some spouses literally hide money by stashing it in dresser drawers, between the pages of a book, or in a strong box or safe deposit box. You’ll want to get to the bottom of any situation that doesn’t seem right to you because it might well be evidence of hidden assets.
What if you do find evidence? Then what?
The court doesn’t look favorably on spouses who try to beat the system so that they walk away with more than they’re entitled to in a divorce. You can take immediate legal action against an asset-hiding spouse. Most California residents facing similar problems turn to experienced family law attorneys to help them submit evidence and request the court’s intervention.