Techniques for Discovering Hidden Assets In A Divorce

The one downside to relationships is that sometimes they simply don’t work out. Whether there’s cheating, lying, or simply a fading of interest divorce is an all too common occurrence. If you’ve decided to call it quits in your marriage a little digging may reveal that your spouse has hidden assets that you may be entitled to.

Most purchases during your married years are considered to be shared assets and should be divided down the middle during your divorce proceedings (unless you sign a prenup). Unfortunately, it’s not entirely uncommon for a spouse to hide away assets until the divorce has run its course. 

If you have any suspicions then it’s time to start doing some sniffing around to reveal whether or not your spouse has hidden away assets from you. Here are 6 techniques you can use to discover hidden assets in your divorce.

1) Watch your bank accounts carefully

If divorce has been on the horizon for a long time, your spouse may come up with a few schemes to siphon off money from your joint bank account to hide away for later. Here are a few ways they may attempt to sneak money out from under you:

  • They might claim they’re paying off a debt to an old friend or family member. In actuality, they’re transferring the money so it can be kept safe until the divorce has run its course.
  • They may “loan” a friend or relative a large sum of money. Of course, the money is being safeguarded for your spouse to retrieve at a later date.
  • They may open a bank account under your child’s name, using their social security number to hideaway secret funds.

It’s common for nefarious spouses to transfer funds to trusted individuals when they’re going through a divorce. Always keep up to date with bank statements. That way if a large sum of money goes missing you can take effective action.

2) Take your search online

It’s hard enough to cover up a physical paper trail, but it’s far more difficult to cover your digital tracks. A public records search can reveal a wealth of information if you know what to look for. Simply enter the name of your spouse and wait as the results show up on screen. You’ll be presented with a wealth of information that includealiases, relatives you may not have been aware of, and even business associates. You may even find information that can lead you to hidden assets.

3) Use an attorney

No matter how great of a sleuth you might think you are your search may come up fruitless. Digging for hidden assets is serious business, so sometimes it’s best left to the professionals to get the job done right. You can do this by turning to an attorney.

By going the legal route, your spouse won’t have a choice if they’re court ordered to reveal relevant documents (loan applications, financial statements, etc.). Your spouse may have nothing to lose when they lie to you, but lying in a court of law is a punishable offense. Having the law on your side is a potent way to reveal any hidden assets your spouse may be hiding away.

4) Be aware of your spouse’s business expenses

When divorce is looming over a failing marriage, your spouse may take a number of precautions to protect their cash from the impending fallout. For example, your spouse may have been expecting a raise for a number of months, but now that you’re going through a divorce there’s suddenly a convenient delay. That’s because your spouse likely told their boss to hold off on the raise until after the divorce has been finalized. Once your divorce is official, they can enjoy their raise without having to give a portion of it to you.

Your spouse has even more opportunities to be devious if they run their own business. Here are a few ways they can hold on to hidden funds without having to share a penny with you:

  • They may suddenly have to set money aside to pay a “new employee” or “freelancer.”
  • They may wait to charge their clients until after the divorce has been finalized. After that, they can collect a fat paycheck without having to split it with you.

If your spouse suddenly has extra business expenses (such as a new employee), one of two things are likely occurring.  One, the mystery employee doesn’t exist, or two, the person being paid is actually a trusted friend or family member. Either way, your spouse gets to keep funds that should rightfully be split with you.

Don’t be afraid to run a public records search if you discover the names of a new employee or freelancer. Identifying these individuals earlier on will allow you to take confront your spouse and put an end to their nefarious scheme of hiding away secret funds.

5) Searching hiding spots

You might be surprised what you find hidden away in your very own home. Start your search in places where important documents are often kept — file cabinets, safes, etc. Then move on to dresser drawers, closets, under the mattress, journals and so on. Your search may reveal secret bank statements, stock certificates, or even large sums of hidden money. You never know what a sock drawer might reveal!

6) Be wary of new spending habits

You should know what your spouse can and can’t afford. If they’re suddenly making miscellaneous purchases on things they wouldn’t normally purchase (such as artwork, jewelry, or new furniture), then that should send up an immediate red flag.

Your spouse might be buying up a lot of physical goods to resale after the divorce has been finalized. Even if they don’t get back 100% of the money spent they’ll still walk away with something at the end of the day and you’ll be left with nothing

Track down the assets your spouse has been hiding from you

Divorce is often an ugly reality of marriage. Feelings are hurt, assets are put at risk, and the relationship is ruined. Despite this, you’re still entitled to what’s yours. Make sure to perform your due diligence before officially signing your divorce papers. You may find assets that have been hidden away that you rightfully have claim to.

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