One of the most challenging parts of divorce is splitting marital property. Contention can arise over who gets what and how much. To protect assets, your spouse may try to hide them. He or she may try to do so during the divorce process, or she or he may have already done so long before divorce was a consideration.
It is important to know what signs to look for, especially if you have not been too involved in your family's finances or do not trust your spouse. Whether you suspect dishonest (and illegal) behavior, it may be beneficial to have a forensic accountant ensure all assets are on the table and have a valuator provide accurate estimations of their worth.
Warnings signs of hidden assets
Before proceeding any further with your divorce, look now for these red flags so you can act quickly to protect your financial situation:
- Making numerous, complex transactions so records are long and confusing
- Excluding you from financial decisions
- Denying you access to accounts and answers to questions
- Underreporting income or overreporting expenses and debts
- Giving money or property to friends and family
- Going out of town more than usual for business
- Overpaying taxes or creditors
- Using cash all the time to avoid a paper trail
The bottom line is to watch for activity that tends to keep you in the dark and information that conveniently works in your spouse's favor. Some may not seem advantageous now, but actions such as overpayments and asset transfers are ways to secure the return of money after a divorce is over.
How you can protect yourself
Get involved in your finances as best you can at this stage. You can talk directly to institutions for accounts that also have your name on them. Review mail, receipts and tax returns to find evidence of suspicious behavior. Seek professional assistance in uncovering hidden assets to ensure you receive your fair share.