how to tell your spouse is hiding assets

8 Signs She Might Be Hiding Assets

Goldberg Jones Divorce, Finances Leave a Comment

UPDATED: With divorce looming on the horizon, it’s important to get your proverbial ducks in a row. Particularly when it comes to finances.

During the process both you and your soon-to-be ex need to provide records of income, assets, debts, and all the rest. These will then be divided according to the law based on various factors. It may be tempting to try to hide some of your valuables. That, however, has serious consequences if you’re found out, including fines, contempt charges, even jail time.

But what if your ex tries to hide assets? It’s all too common for people to squirrel treasures away when divorce is imminent. If you know to look for certain red flags, it can help protect your rights and your financial future.

Is She Hiding Assets?

This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but here are eight common signs your ex might be hiding assets. These don’t automatically mean that’s the case, but if you see one or more of these, it might be worth closer examination. 

1. Self-Employment

Being a business owner isn’t in and of itself a warning sign of hidden assets. That said, if your ex owns a business, it does provide creative opportunities to conceal money.

Be wary of drastic changes in reported income and unexpected increases in operating costs.

Purposely running a business into the ground may signal something is amiss. Not letting you look at financial records for the business may also tip you off.

If either of you own a business, it makes divorce that much more complicated. There are many specific concerns and potential consequences you face in that situation. It may even impact business partners. In these situations, it’s likely in your best interest to talk to a professional with experience in these cases.

2. Income/Lifestyle Discrepancy

If your ex lives large, but claims to have no money, or reports an income below the poverty line, that may indicate something is awry with the financial disclosure. If your ex buys a new car or vacations in Cabo, but claims there’s no money, keep an eye open.

Additionally, changes in how much or how often your spouse contributes to family expenses can be a warning sign of hiding assets.

3. Changes in Deposit/Withdrawal Activity 

If you notice sudden changes in banking activity, it might be worth taking a closer look. Patterns shifting after years of consistency and predictability may indicate your ex is hiding assets.

It isn’t uncommon for spouses make cash withdrawal or to start diverting money into new accounts when a divorce is inevitable.

Cash transactions are more difficult to track. Thanks to this, it’s an attractive avenue for people trying to stash assets out of view. Once cash is removed from an account, it can be tucked away any number of places until the divorce is final.

4. Overly Assertive About Financial Documents

If your ex insists you sign important financial documents right away, it may signify an attempt to hide assets. Pressuring you to act quickly may be a strategy to get you to overlook something significant.

This can encompass everything from wanting to be added to property via title or asking you to sign quit claims that release interest in title or accounts.

Don’t give into the pressure and don’t sign anything just because it’s easier. Take the time to read all documents. If you don’t understand them, find someone who does, the more experienced the better. This is important whether you think your ex is hiding assets or not. Either way, your financial future hangs in the balance, make sure to do things right.

5. Secretive About Finances

Is your ex being secretive about finances or getting cagey when you ask about bills, expenses, income, or spending? Sure, some people don’t like to talk about money, but these may also be red flags that someone is hiding assets.

You can help yourself by paying close attention. Keep an eye on credit card statements and monitor credit reports before, during, and after divorce.

Spouses commonly max out lines of credit or open new accounts.

People often accumulate clothes, jewelry, and other expensive items on joint accounts. Depending on the situation, this debt may be divided in the divorce and you may wind up on the hook.

6. Sudden Change in Business Profitability

Again, businesses offer a variety of ways for people to try to hide assets during divorce. If a business has been profitable, but takes a drastic, sudden downturn, it may be a red flag.

Keep an eye on reports of record losses or skyrocketing costs. This may require a closer look.

Overstating expenses and understating income are two methods of making a business appear less profitable, thus less valuable, that it is in reality.

7. Gifts 

Giving gifts of cash or assets to family members is a common way people try to hide assets in divorce. If your spouse starts gifting money or property to friends or family before filing divorce, those assets may be out of reach when it comes to the division of property.

This is especially challenging when it comes to overseas relatives. Money held in offshore accounts can be particularly difficult to locate and even harder to recover. If you suspect that your wife is trying to hide assets in an offshore account, you may need to hire a detective who specializes in financial fraud.

8. Unfamiliar Financial Institutions

Divorce or not, it’s important to keep an eye on bank statements, credit card bills, and other financial documents. That’s just basic money management.

But if you start seeing documents from financial institutions where you don’t have accounts, take note. This may indicate your spouse opened new accounts and is trying to move funds from joint accounts to one you can’t access.

Finances are complex under normal circumstances. As with most things, divorce only further complicates the matter. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, it’s vital to consult a professional. An experienced divorce attorney knows what to look for and how to handle these situations and can help secure your financial future.

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