In some divorces, one spouse will attempt to conceal or hide assets from the other spouse to avoid sharing large assets or intentionally deflating their income to avoid paying more in alimony or child support. Whether the spouse withdraws a large sum of money from the shared bank accounts or tries to transfer their property to a loved one or friend, there are several ways to hide assets during a divorce.
Although some couples share responsibility in regard to bookkeeping, there are others where one spouse has control and supervision of the family finances. If you are the “out-spouse,” meaning you don't have immediate access to or knowledge of financial information, the first thing to do is ask your spouse for copies of all financial records. However, a helpful spouse in these situations is quite rare, which means you need to do the investigating on your own.
If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, you and your lawyer can use a formal, legal process known as “discovery” to obtain documents and information. This process offers several ways of acquiring information from an uncooperative spouse since the court has the power to compel compliance.
The following are several methods of getting financial information during the discovery process:
- Document demands
- Interrogatories or requests for admission
- Inspection demands
- Oral deposition or testimony under oath
For example, a deposition is one of the most effective ways to obtain information. If your spouse lies under oath during deposition, he/she can be charged with perjury, which is punishable by a prison sentence.
When it comes to discovery, you should ask for documents and information relating to income, assets, liabilities, and debts. Regarding assets, there are tangible assets (i.e. cash and other assets that can be sold or liquidated) and intangible assets (i.e. bank accounts, retirement accounts and stock options).
The following are the common types of documents asked during discovery:
- Tax returns
- Financial statements
- Loan applications
- Bank accounts
Penalties for hiding assets include monetary penalties that would require the hiding spouse to pay, force the hiding spouse to give up their entire share of a remaining asset or pay more support to the other spouse until all that was taken is paid back. In some cases, the hiding spouse can even be arrested, depending on the circumstances of the divorce.
However, there are some cases where a spouse finds out that the other spouse hid assets after the divorce is finalized. If this is the case, a spouse can file a motion in the court where the divorce was finalized and request to reopen the divorce case in order to amend the divorce agreement.
At The Clarke Law Firm, our Murfreesboro divorce attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the discovery process and ensure that either your assets are protected or that your spouse is punished for attempting to hide assets. We possess the experience and resources to help you get the most favorable results possible.
For more information, contact us and schedule a consultation today.