Money is easily the most contentious point in any divorce. But do you really have a solid view of your family’s financial picture? Unfortunately, many spouses don’t. Now, a company that specializes in finding hidden matrimonial assets has launched a new blog intended to help divorcing couples ensure they aren’t being financially duped by their spouses.
Charles Griffin Intelligence, a consulting company in New York, developed its “Divorce Asset Hunter” blog to provide the public with information about ways that sneaky spouses mask considerable amounts of money and assets to avoid big losses in a divorce.
Here are some of the most common ways that spouses try to disguise their assets during a divorce, according to the blog’s lead writer, Philip Segal:
- Secret side companies and partnerships;
- Assets controlled by “straw” purchasers (including parents, siblings, close friends, and associates);
- Real estate;
- Financially fraudulent transactions (“cooking the books,” paying “ghost” employees, and failing to record business receipts);
- Secretly purchased valuables.
Although scheming to hide assets does happen in divorces, it’s getting harder for spouses to get away with it. A handy tool called electronic discovery, or e-discovery, has opened doors for divorce attorneys in North Carolina and elsewhere to sift through countless computer records and transaction histories to discover hidden caches of money.
“While in the past a paper trail might be hidden by a second set of books or the shredding of documents, the trail left by files on a computer is etched onto a hard drive somewhere, just waiting to be discovered,” Ken Altshuler, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, told the Wall Street Journal.
If you are concerned that your spouse has been hiding assets, it’s important to mention it to your divorce lawyer. This is especially important in cases where one spouse is the primary breadwinner or is the person solely responsible for paying the bills and reviewing bank statements.
Your attorney will determine the best way to proceed to gain a better understanding of your marital finances. That could range from requesting your spouse to provide documentation to subpoenaing financial institutions or other companies to provide information about financial holdings.
If you are thinking of initiating divorce proceedings, we advise you to start making copies of any financial records that you have on file now. That includes bank statements but also retirement account statements, business records, loan paperwork or any other information about your assets and debts. This information will be an essential resource for your attorney as he or she begins to evaluate your case.
If you have other questions about asset division, the Raleigh family law firm of Charles Ullman & Associates is here to help. Call toll-free or use our online contact form to get the answers you need today.