In our recent article, I Think My Spouse is Hiding Assets In Our Divorce. What Can I Do?, we provided a brief overview of three methods that are available for exposing a spouse’s attempt to conceal assets during a divorce. We also discussed an important Ohio statute that can, in appropriate circumstances, be used to require a spouse who conceals assets to pay up to three times the value of the assets that were not disclosed.
We should emphasize that, if you believe your spouse may be hiding assets in your divorce, you should speak with an attorney before taking any action on your own. This is a situation with a variety of legal implications, and you do not want to do anything that could harm your standing in your divorce. With that preface, this article is intended to help you begin thinking about the types of questions that will need to be answered in order to uncover any hidden assets in your divorce.
What Type(s) of Assets is Your Spouse Hiding?
First, while you may ultimately uncover other hidden assets, it can be helpful to take note of the type (or types) of assets you believe your spouse may be hiding. This is an area where brainstorming can be helpful. During the divorce process, many spouses discover that they have many more types of assets than they previously realized, and this can certainly apply to one spouse’s hidden assets as well. Some of the types of assets that spouses may attempt to shield from the divorce process include
- Physical assets (such as gold, jewelry, collections, boats, or cars)
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Bonds, mutual funds, and other individual investments
- Retirement accounts
- Small business income
- Small business inventory and equipment
Investigating Hidden Assets in a Divorce
In order to build a paper trail, there are a number of questions you will want to explore with your attorney. This too involves a brainstorming process, the goal of which is to develop a comprehensive investigation strategy designed to ensure that no relevant stones go unturned. To prepare for your initial consultation, start thinking about questions like:
- What are all of your spouse’s sources of income? Does your spouse’s income seem inconsistent?
- Does your spouse receive stock options, deferred compensation, bonuses, incentive-based income, or other non-traditional compensation?
- Can you account for all money flowing out of your joint savings, checking, investment, and retirement accounts?
- Has your spouse been using a joint account to pay property taxes or other assessments that are unfamiliar to you?
- Do you and your spouse file joint tax returns? Do you have copies (or does your accountant)?
- Does your spouse own a business? If so, do you know how the business earns its revenue?
- If your spouse owns a business, does the business have its own accounts? Does it deal in cash?
- Is it possible that your spouse has any accounts, private storage facilities, or safety deposit boxes in his or her own name?
While uncovering your spouse’s hidden assets can initially seem difficult (if not impossible), there are ways to protect yourself. For more information, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Divorce Attorney at Laubacher & Co.
Laubacher & Co. is a team of experienced family law attorneys who represent spouses in complex divorces in Cleveland, OH. If you believe that your spouse may be hiding assets, we can help you protect your rights. To get started with a free, confidential consultation, call us at (440) 336-8687 or request an appointment online today.