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Can hidden assets be discovered by the other spouse in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2015 | Property Division

If one spouse played a more active role in the couple’s finances, will the other spouse be at a disadvantage during a divorce? With the help of an experienced divorce attorney, the answer to that question does not have to be in the affirmative. 

A soon-to-be former spouse who played a lesser role in marital finances may be uncertain where to start. Our firm recommends a thorough inventory of the marital estate. That process also includes searching for hidden or commonly overlooked assets, as well as excluding non-marital property like gifts or inheritances.

Financial records may not be in hard copy. However, online account access is increasingly available, and an attorney who cross-references tax returns for the past five years should be able to piece together a more complete financial picture. An IRS Form 1040 return includes sections for reporting income from wages, interest and dividends, retirement plan distributions and carry forwards. In addition, the itemized deductions can also clue an attorney into various asset sources. 

In addition, an attorney has various discovery tools at his or her disposal, such as subpoenas that can be sent to mortgage companies, the administrators of retirement or other employer-sponsored plans, banks, and most other types of third parties. An attorney can also take the other spouse’s deposition under oath. This can be an effective safeguard against hidden assets because the spouse’s sworn testimony, if false, could subject him or her to the criminal charge of perjury. In many states, as well as under federal law, a perjury conviction is a felony punishable by fines and/or imprisonment for several years.

Source: Financial Advisor, “Divorcing spouses Warned to Search For Hidden Assets,” Karen Demasters, Jan. 8, 2015