From Hiding to Perjury
If you lie during discovery or deposition to hide assets, whether in a divorce or other legal case, you are breaking the law. The crime is perjury, and it is a punishable crime. Outside of discovery, there is another term for lying about finances while married, called financial infidelity. It refers to couples who lie to each other about hidden debts, secret excessive expenditures and other money related lies. When you think about how to hide money from a spouse, stop. It’s illegal to lie about assets in discovery or in court.
Steps to Protect Your Assets Pre-Divorce
Still, we are repeatedly asked how to hide money from a spouse. Instead of asking how to hide money from a spouse, maybe separating spouses should ask how to protect yourself financially. A prenuptial agreement is still the best way to protect your assets in divorce. Yet, when you and your spouse know separation is imminent, you can take steps to limit your financial risk.
Know All of Your Assets
Comb through the assets you and your spouse own. Identify all of your assets, then figure out which are yours, which are jointly owned, and which are your spouse’s. Though statements are online, protect yourself from password changes by downloading the last 12 months of statements. Identify how much was recently withdrawn from joint accounts by anyone else. If you have questions on how to continue, consulting an HFLG attorney is only a phone call or a click away. HFLG works with forensic auditors and other investigators trained in tracking down hidden assets.
Monitor Credit Activity
In the wake of the pandemic, the three credit bureaus have begun making your free credit report available to you once every seven days. Before the pandemic, a free report from each bureau was available once a year. Now, every week, you can check credit activity to see if a spouse (or anyone else) is running up charges. Track any suspicious activity and discuss your options with your family law attorney.
Move Half of Joint Bank Balances to Separate Accounts
When you know your marriage is over, separate joint accounts into separate accounts. Moving half the funds from joint bank accounts and safe deposit boxes keeps some funds available if you need them. It doesn’t protect you, since your accounts are considered community property until the divorce is finalized. It will prevent being locked out of your accounts. It’s prudent to keep documentation as a record of your actions, to show you were acting transparently and fairly. If your separation is fairly amicable, you can both go to the bank and split the accounts. Still keep documentation and records of your actions. Still remember those accounts are community property until you are legally separated.
Separate Legally ASAP
You should execute this step at once after you have begun monitoring assets and expenses. The sooner you formalize the separation, the less time there is for an angry spouse to max your credit cards and empty investment accounts. Making the separation legal, with a detailed separation agreement is a crucial way to protect yourself financially.
Once you have a clear idea of your assets and liabilities, you can split them with your spouse in a written separation agreement. This agreement is usually prepared by an attorney to ensure it is enforceable and detailed enough to protect you. Because separating spouses often try to hide assets, it’s judicious to consult an attorney on how to proceed. Consulting an attorney offers protection from a spouse who believes they solved how to hide assets from a spouse.
For Informational Purposes Only
This article is not intended to be construed as legal advice. It is for informational purposes only, offering insights and awareness into the complex nature of separation. Revealing, proving ownership, and dividing assets and debts is difficult. Speaking with an experienced attorney is an advisable way to make sure your rights are safeguarded.