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Work with experienced legal counsel to prevent asset-hiding in divorce, P.2

Previously, we began discussing the discovery process in the context of property division, and the importance of working with experienced legal counsel to gather all the evidence necessary to reach a just resolution to the case. Of particular concern, we noted, is the possibility of asset-hiding.

There are a number of possibilities for a spouse to engage in asset-hiding, and an experienced attorney will know what signs to look for and how to utilize the discovery process to minimize the possibility that a spouse gets away with it. In addition to knowing where to look, it is important to know what to look for in terms of potential signs of asset-hiding.

For one thing, tax returns can be a very helpful resource for discovering sources of income, how money was spent, and so on. If necessary, the spouse’s tax preparer or accountant can be deposed and the documents used to prepare the return can be examined. Both state and federal returns can be requested, but state returns may come back quicker. Specific areas to look for signs of asset-hiding include: W-2s and 1099 forms; dividends; schedules tracking business distributions and deductions; and tax refunds.

In payroll records, spouses may try to hide assets by taking deductions or making regular auto deposits. In bank statements, some signs to look out for are electronic transfers and payments and cash withdrawals, especially those in even amounts. Copies of cancelled checks can be requested.

In our next post, we’ll look at some other areas spouses should look out for with respect to potential asset-hiding, and why how experienced legal counsel can protect a spouse’s financial interests. 

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