Where to Find the Assets
Our Previous article, Spouses Trying to Hide Assets in a Divorce showed you ways spouses hide assets. This article will highlight ways to protect yourself from the most commonly hidden asset, cash. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, there are ways to uncover at least some of it, and potentially all of the “hidden assets”. Today, private investigators are commonly used in separations where at least one of the parties hold wealth.
To find the assets, it helps to know where to look, and your spouse’s recent behavior is key. When a spouse has a high net worth, there are often multiple companies, local and abroad, with plenty of places to stash hidden assets. If the assets are held offshore in places like the British Virgin Island, it can be next to impossible to find and prove such assets. Hittelman Family Law Group investigators look where the spouse has traveled, where purchases were made and much more. Experience makes the difference in following the money.
How to Prove Assets*
Videotaping matrimonial assets is not just for insurance purposes anymore. In fact, whether the assets are cash or other valuables, it is a good idea to videotape everything joint asset you can to show what exists to be divided. Nothing is too big or too small to be recorded in this way. Forensic accountants can track other assets through bank statements with large or frequent transfers of money, accounting discrepancies and financial inaccuracies in both business and personal finances. Still, there are some assets in your own home that you can prove and protect.
Proving Cash Assets
If you know your spouse is secretly taking cash from the house, and not sharing regularly, bring it out into the open. Make sure you know the combination to the safe. Even better, make a video showing the amount of cash in the safe. By taking out the bills and counting them on camera, you not only verify but quantify the amount of cash present in the safe. Be sure to include the area around the safe in your video to give geographic context to the cash (location of the cash). This reduces the deniability of its presence by your spouse.
If you cannot video-record the cash, document the cash with a trustworthy witness, like your mother. Be careful in your choice of witnesses. In a divorce, a trusted friend might be closer to your spouse. Take photos or a video of your witness looking at the cash in the safe with you. Remember, simply taking all the cash your self might create legal ramifications. Discuss your course of action with your attorney.
Protecting Cash Assets you Prove
Speaking of attorney, yours may be able to seek a restraining order to have a law official such as the police remove the safe from the home and impound it in a secure location. The court will then order the safe opened and the contents disclosed. Just a reminder, having the video first means if your spouse removes the money when he or she discovers what you are organizing, it can still be proven.
Other Things to Note
Some partners and spouses hide money without the intention of getting a divorce. There are different opinions on what it means when a spouse hides money and other assets. Regardless of whether the spouse is planning for a divorce or not, it certainly does not make a great foundation for marriage.
It is critical to complete any asset investigation before a divorce settlement is agreed to. Once all parties sign the settlement, it is much more difficult to convince the courts to reopen the case.
*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice. Seek the advice of your family law attorney before you decide on the best actions for your situation. The good news is that you are already on a family law website, and answers are just a click away.