HOW CAN YOU GET HALF YOUR ASSETS IF YOUR SPOUSE IS HIDING THEM?
California is one of nine states that use to community property laws when spouses decide to divorce. That means, in California, the spouses’ community property — otherwise known as marital property — is supposed to be divided on a 50/50 basis. Whether or not that happens could depend on multiple factors, such as accurate or inaccurate valuation of assets or the kind of assets each spouse would prefer to keep.
An even division of marital property can also be difficult to achieve if your spouse is not being honest about all assets and liabilities. Total transparency and full disclosure are necessary to protect the rights of all involved. If you suspect your spouse is trying to keep certain assets hidden from property division, you should know upfront that such behavior is illegal.
How to know for sure
Even if your spouse threatened you in some way, perhaps saying he or she was going to take everything you have, a mere threat is not enough to prove that your spouse is hiding assets. If you plan to address the matter in court, you’ll need more evidence. The following list includes typical ways many spouses have tried to hide assets in divorce:
- Some spouses simply take cash and stash it somewhere. If this sounds like something your spouse would do, you may want to check potential hiding places, such as drawers, storage bins, even under your mattress; you’ll want to do this especially if you’ve noticed cash missing from your household or bank accounts.
- When is the last time you reviewed your spouse’s pay stubs? Many spouses hide assets in divorce by deferring compensation at work. For example, is part of your spouse’s pay going to a newly opened account? Did your spouse set up direct deposit to a retirement account that you’re not aware of?
- When you last checked the balance on your jointly owned bank account, had there been one or more withdrawals of which you were unaware at the time? This could signify a hidden asset problem and definitely warrants further investigation.
- Do your children have bank accounts in your spouse’s name? This is another means that many people use to hide assets in divorce.
- Has some new artwork appeared in your home? You’ll want to make sure your spouse correctly values such luxury items when it comes time to disclose assets and liabilities; undervaluing recently purchased artwork, jewelry or other property is a common asset-hiding trick.
You don’t have to try to handle a suspected hidden asset problem alone. In fact, by working with a family law attorney well-versed in California property division laws, you can have the guidance and representation you need to pull the rug out from under a hidden asset scheme.