Getting to the bottom of a hidden asset problem

Divorce is definitely not an easy process, especially if you are hit with obstacles that threaten to delay proceedings or impede your ability to protect your interests. Regardless of how you feel about what transpired during your marriage, you likely just want to resolve the pertinent issues at hand, agree to a settlement and move on to a new lifestyle. That can be pretty tough to do if your spouse is being underhanded and trying to hide assets to keep them from being subject to division in court.

Ohio is an equitable property state, as most states are. The judge overseeing your case must determine a fair means of dividing your marital assets and any debt liability that exists at the time of your divorce that you or your spouse incurred during marriage. How can you get what you entitled to, however, if your spouse is stashing cash, draining a jointly owned bank account or performing other sneaky deeds to try to gain the upper hand?

The system promotes fairness

When you file for divorce, one of the first sets of proceedings includes what is known as the discovery phase. At this time, you and your spouse must share all information regarding personal finances and marital assets. This helps keep the playing field even. If your spouse lies or omits certain information, the court may order him or her to disclose it or face perjury charges. If he or she refuses, it may lead to contempt charges.

Types of information you must disclose

During the discovery phase, you may have to supply your spouse with information regarding your bank accounts, income statements, investments or retirement plans, among other things. You can have an attorney act on your behalf to request similar information from your spouse. If you in any way falsify the information you provide, you may face serious legal problems.

Gather evidence

If your spouse warns that you won't get a dime in divorce, does it mean you have grounds to file a hidden asset complaint? It may if you can gather additional evidence to prove that your spouse has acted on the threat. By documenting suspicious activity, such as money missing from an account or your spouse opening a new bank account for a minor, you can protect your financial interests by seeking the court's immediate intervention.

If you confront your spouse, he or she may become defensive or even combative. That is a typical reaction when people hiding assets feel cornered. Hiding assets is illegal, and no judge is going to look favorably on a spouse who is trying to beat the system for his or her own financial gain.

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