Tips for Finding Assets Your Spouse Hid Before the Divorce
- posted: Aug. 15, 2021
Michigan requires divorcing spouses to disclose all marital and separately owned property, since full financial disclosure is necessary to ensure that each spouse receives an equitable share of the marital estate. Hiding assets is never a good idea, but divorce often drives people to behave in irrational and ill-advised ways. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets in hopes of gaining a financial edge, there are concrete steps you can take to discover them.
A spouse may choose to hide assets before a divorce for tactical reasons. Until the couple’s date of separation, marital assets continue accumulating and are subject to equitable distribution. So some spouses try to hide assets before they tell their spouse they want to end the marriage, in an attempt to reduce the assets that must be divided.
Some of the most common ways divorcing spouses hide their assets involve:
- Secret accounts and property — A spouse may store money in a savings account or investment account at another bank, perhaps one that is far away or overseas. A spouse also may not report ownership of property that rightfully belongs to the marital estate.
- Inaccurately valued property — Manipulating the value of marital assets is one way divorcing spouses seek to gain an unfair advantage when the property is divided. If you suspect that an inaccurate price tag has been placed on vehicles, jewelry, artworks, antiques or other assets, it is time to obtain an independent valuation.
- Covert business practices — A business owner can hide assets by paying contractors or employees who do not exist, taking out fake loans from friends or family to create the illusion of debt, overpaying taxes or misrepresenting the value of the business.
- Holding off on income — A person may hold off on accepting a promotion, taking a bonus or being fully paid for their work based on an undisclosed agreement that they will receive the deferred income after the divorce.
- Friends and family — People going through a divorce sometimes ask friends or family to hold onto chunks of cash or other valuable assets that they then collect after the divorce. Safes, safety deposit boxes and other physical hiding spots may also be used to conceal money.
You may be able to find evidence of secret accounts, missing funds or unreported assets by reviewing your joint tax returns for the past several years. Bank statements and business records may also hold evidence that money has been transferred out of shared accounts or used for unexplained purposes. However, to discover more sophisticated methods of asset hiding, a forensic accountant may be needed.
The lawyers at Shatzman & Shatzman in Rochester Hills and St. Clair Shores work to help divorcing clients in Michigan to locate hidden assets and force them into the light. Our firm represents residents of Shelby Township, Chesterfield Township and the surrounding areas. To schedule a consultation with a member of our team, call 586-800-3018 or contact us online.