Why Discovering Hidden Assets In Divorce Is Easier Than Ever
By Tara N. Brewer
During divorce proceedings, it’s quite difficult to divide assets without the accurate amount. Some troubled couples tend to hide money from each other to avoid sharing it in divorce.
If one person solely handles the household’s financial affairs, it’s easier to hide assets. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 31% of U.S. adults who combined assets with a spouse or partner admit to being deceptive about money.
However, as the Wall Street Journal reports, hiding assets from your spouse has become increasingly difficult due to the proliferation of electronic discovery research.
Some resources include Web-surfing history, social networking sites, Google searches, and cell phone records.
There are five starting points to locate your spouse’s hidden assets:
- Look for letter, notes, or emails asking to defer income.
- Look for a situation where the spouse delays additional employment incentives for future dispersion.
- Look for abrupt money shortages and increases in ATM withdrawals.
- Look for vanishing joint accounts and sold stocks.
- Find out where financial statements are being sent.
Financial Tips: Most Common Ways A Spouse Hides Assets
Cordell & Cordell divorce attorney Daniel Exner warns those looking to protect their property by temporarily disposing of it during a divorce. In some states, property dispersion is prohibited without the consent of the other party.
This prohibition begins at the start of the divorce action and ends at final judgment. Violators of the disposition prohibition may be charged with contempt.
One way to protect your property would be through acquiring a martial property agreement or a post-nuptial agreement. This designates the property as your individual property so that it can be awarded to you after divorce.
In 2010, 81% of the members in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said they had seen an increase over the past five years in the use of social media evidence. Over the past three years, 92% of divorce attorneys said they have seen an increase in the number of cases using evidence gathered from smartphones.
But there are gray areas on what type of evidence proving financial deceit is admissible in court. These rules vary widely by jurisdiction.
Findings located illegally are inadmissible in court, threaten your credibility, and may result in criminal sanctions. Even the divorce attorney could face hefty fines or lose his/her license for using illegal evidence.
Examples of illegal evidence include hacking into a spouse’s personal password-protected cellular phone or Facebook page, secretly installing a GPS in their car, or installing keystroke monitors on their computer.
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, please contact a Cordell & Cordell office to discuss your rights.