Hiding assets during a divorce is illegal and unethical, but it does happen. Obviously if you are at the point of going through a divorce, there may be other concerns that have led you to a point where you no longer trust your partner, and you may be asking yourself ‘how do I know if my partner is being honest about their finances?’
One or other of you may have had more control over the finances within your marriage, and it is quite common in this modern era of internet banking for people to report lower assets and income and state much greater outgoings whilst going through the divorce process so that they are left in a better financial situation after settlement.
Individuals may hide money in numerous ways; having many bank accounts, paying down mortgages and credit card balances, placing possessions or investments in safety deposit boxes under a relative or friend’s name, paying ‘expenses’ that do not exist, or tying up money in businesses in various ways or in offshore accounts.
Are there discrepancies between the lifestyle that you and your ex partner were living and the working patterns or income that you know about? What other anomalies have you noticed or are you confused about? Discussing these fully with your divorce lawyer will allow you to look into possible actions to take the matter further. You may want to do a bit of digging yourself to see if you can unearth any details.
If you have had discussions with your divorce lawyer and they feel that the assets that appear hidden are worth investigating, they may suggest the use of specialised financial forensics, whose job it is to track down secret bank accounts and their assets.
They use all available resources to track down any assets, money, property, anything financial that someone has tried to hide. The trained specialist will gather a lot of additional information about you and your ex partner’s lifestyle from you before proceeding with their investigations.
A non exhaustive list of information they will investigate is; Income Tax returns, Savings accounts and money market funds, Account statements and cancelled cheques, Lifestyle analysis, Cash flow procedures in a business, Credit card receipts for purchases, Credit reports for credit card accounts that are open but may not be in current use, Insurance statements for cash value of insurance policies, Bank statements to analyse deposit of cash and cheques, cashpoint withdrawals and to whom cheques are written, Off shore accounts, Loan Applications and Personal Net worth Statements at Banks, Public Records Check, Local Level Searches….and so on.
For the majority of divorce cases, the assets are fairly easily traced, with the input of financial forensics, and it has to be weighed up whether the assets are worth the additional expense of these highly trained professionals and the extra time it will cost you in your divorce. In all cases it has been proved that it is far better to be completely honest with your ex partner.
While it may be difficult to bring to light unreported income and hidden assets, clues can be found which are very meaningful to a trained eye, and can open the facts for fair final property settlements.