Is My Spouse Hiding Assets?
Franklin divorce lawyer shares some signs, explains how you can prevail in court
I’ve been a practicing divorce lawyer in Franklin for many years. In my practice, I have talked with many clients who feel like something just isn’t right when they review their finances with their spouses. It’s usually a wife who thinks that her husband is hiding something from her – more income than he says, bonuses he isn’t sharing with her, or even extra accounts she doesn’t know about. Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, which means that courts generally award spouses an equitable share of assets like real estate and investment accounts. Equitable does not mean equal, however, in most circumstances we first look at dividing assets approximately 50-50 and go from there. Many people are motivated to hide assets so that they are not split in the divorce, and some hide income so they do not have to pay as much in alimony or child support (or pay any).
Hiding assets is illegal, and it’s just plain ethically wrong. Before you can prove to the courts that your spouse is hiding assets, you need to be able to recognize the signs yourself. Some signs that your spouse may be hiding income or assets include:
- Refuses to talk about financial affairs or to share details of accounts
- Takes complete control over bank accounts and other financial accounts and will not share passwords
- Has a sense of urgency around signing tax returns or other financial documents
- Claims that financial information is “lost” when asked, such as from a computer crash
- Maintains a P.O. box that gets financial statements
- Purchases large or luxury items that seem out of proportion to budget
- Suddenly claims the business is failing, or investments or income has plummeted, even though lifestyle hasn’t changed
- Claims a dramatic decrease in value of assets
There are more signs that could indicate that your spouse is hiding assets, but these are some of the most common ones. If you see these signs or have other reasons to suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, it’s important to talk with an experienced divorce attorney. Your attorney may also want to hire an expert forensic accountant. Your attorney and your accountant can work together to find evidence of hidden income or assets. The first place we usually look is at the tax returns, and we can compare those to current bank statements and other information that would verify income or other assets. It will most likely be necessary to do discovery in your case, and look for evidence of other accounts in the spouse’s name, debts, and even offshore accounts.
Finding evidence of hidden assets or income is not easy, and it’s not something you should attempt by yourself. If your spouse suspects it, he or she may double down on efforts to hide the assets. Proving that your spouse is hiding assets can improve your overall standing in the divorce, and can cause the value of the marital estate to be increased such that you get a larger share of the assets. It can result in the judge being less likely to believe the asset-hiding spouse, and more likely to believe your claims, which can result in you getting a larger share of the assets.
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, call me, Judy A. Oxford, attorney, at my office at (615) 791-8511 to discuss your situation and your options. You can also fill out the secure online form to schedule a free consultation. I’m ready to help you try to get the result you deserve in your divorce.