One of the basic tenets of a divorce is an equitable division of the property, assets and debts. However, for this to happen, every aspect of the couple's finances must be disclosed. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen, and especially in high-asset divorce cases, one spouse may attempt to hide income or assets in an attempt to avoid having to split them in the settlement. Here are three warning signs to watch for.
1. You're not receiving statements.
Hidden assets are by their very definition those you don't know about. One common tactic those trying to hide income or assets use is to have financial documents, such as bank statements, credit card statements and tax documents, sent to another address. If you haven't seen any statements lately and your spouse is unable or unwilling - see #3 below - to produce them, he may be trying to hide something.
2. There's been a sudden change in finances.
Sudden, unexplained changes in your spouse's income or the marital finances can be an indicator that there may be some dishonest behavior going on. One of the most common examples is a sudden decrease in your spouse's income that is not reflective of a change in job. This could mean that your spouse is deferring income or holding certain payouts for distribution after the marriage when they will no longer be considered part of the divorce settlement. If your spouse has his own business, watch for unexplained debts or a sudden increase in the number of employees on the payroll. Both of these are common methods used to hide business income.
3. Your spouse is or has been defensive when discussing financial matters.
If your spouse becomes angry and agitated when you bring up the subject of money - or refuses to discuss finances at all - consider it a red flag. This is especially true if you've been able to talk freely and openly about money before. While there are many relationships where one person handles the majority of the money matters, you should still be able to ask questions and get honest answers about the marital debts, assets and accounts.
If your spouse is exhibiting any of these warning signs or you're worried you don't have an accurate picture of your family's finances, contact the Law Office of Keith B. Schulefand. Our attorneys work with forensic accountants and other experts to help make sure that the courts get an accurate and comprehensive financial disclosure and all hidden assets are discovered.