Because California’s community property rules divide marital assets equally, hidden assets can definitively change the calculations. If you believe your ex has hidden assets away, suspicions will only go so far. To make a case in court, you will need to find evidence of wrongdoing.
What is the worst-case scenario if I do not have evidence?
The worst-case scenario for your ex successfully hiding assets is that they will tilt the balance in their favor. They will come out of the divorce with a much greater share of the marital estate. And a larger share of the financial pie, without question, means they’ll have greater power in further disputes such as child custody, child support and any other ongoing concern.
The hunt for hidden assets
We’ve written before on the various red flags indicating assets stowed away by someone in the marriage. Here are a few tips that may allow you to verify your suspicions:
- Documentation: The first place to debunk the more hard-to-believe strategies, such as claiming “we never owned that house,” is documentation. Deeds, financial records, emails, letters, tax returns and other documents are simple-to-acquire and preserve. The added benefit to this is that you see where the paper trail leads.
- Investigation: For easily concealed objects or any roadblock your initial efforts receive, you may need to take other steps. Your family law attorney may have resources to aid your investigation and invaluable insight.
- Use the court: If your spouse has taken on false debt or given gifts with the intention of reclaiming them later, there are options. If you put a “creditor” on the stand, under oath, they must make a choice: expose the lie or risk the penalties of perjury.
As a matter of course, protecting yourself in divorce by any available means is always advisable.
Proper property division is vital
The marital estate division isn’t only about money. It’s about placing the two parties on even ground. That’s why the distribution must be equal and fair.