Getting a divorce often brings out the worst in people. All the grudges you have been holding against each other rise to the surface. Or perhaps you discovered your spouse was unfaithful. Whatever the exact circumstances, you and your soon-to-be ex are not on good terms.
You are also beginning to suspect your spouse is attempting to hide money from you. Unfortunately, a partner hiding assets during a divorce happens more often than you may think. Here are six ways to determine if your ex is being untruthful about finances.
Examine your tax return
A good place to start a search for hidden assets is reviewing your joint tax return. A spouse may offer you the first few pages of the return in an attempt to hide some of the financial information. You should always insist on a full copy of the return. Some partners even go as far as making up fake tax returns to provide false information. If you have any doubts about the validity of the tax return, you can request an official copy from your local IRS office.
Request complete financial statements
Your former spouse may also attempt to give you incomplete information about bank accounts and other financial information. If your partner gives you a screen print of an online account, you should be suspicious. Request full statements of all accounts, or you can even ask to view the accounts online. You want to ensure the balances you are being given are current and accurate.
Search for online accounts
Your ex may also try to hide money in online accounts. Divorce Magazines suggests that you search the browser history on his or her computer for PayPal, Venmo or other online accounts. Since all these transactions occur online, this is a good way to hide money from a spouse.
Look for that money under the mattress
People do not generally hide money under their mattresses. But many people do hide money in their homes. You should check file cabinets, closets, books, air vents, containers in the garage or even pill containers.
Check out suspicious business expenses
If your spouse runs a business, this can be a good way to hide money. He or she may ask clients to hold off on payments. Your partner may also “hire” a new employee, but really just use this as a way to hide money. If you do not recognize the new worker’s name, it could be because this person is fictitious. Look for unusual activity on his or her business account.
Watch for large new purchases
People also try to hide money by buying expensive items right before a divorce. Some items, like an antique rug, can get undervalued during property division. If your ex buys even large items, you should be wary that it is an attempt to swindle you out of marital assets. Getting suspicious items appraised should reveal the value.
If you cannot find evidence, but still suspect your partner is hiding money, you may consider contacting a family law attorney. An attorney and his or her staff likely has experience uncovering hidden assets and will know where to look and what suspicious behavior looks like. He or she can help you get your fair share of the marital estate.