One of the biggest sources of contention during any divorce is the distribution of assets. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement or live in a state that recognizes separate property, all of the debts and assets you accumulate during your marriage could be subject to distribution. However, to turn the tables in their favor, some dishonest people attempt to hide assets so they aren't up for grabs. Here are three ways your future ex might be hiding assets, and how your lawyer can make things right:
1: Overpaying Taxes
During tax season, most people carefully gather paperwork and add up their deductions in order to pay as little as possible. However, tax time is a big opportunity for dishonest future ex spouses. Because overpayments are typically refunded to the individual, some people hide assets by intentionally overpaying their taxes.
Unfortunately, if you are working through your divorce on your own, it might be hard to catch the "errors." As you sort through tax statements and try to calculate earnings, it can be difficult to figure out what your spouse should have paid, or what might be refunded.
However, divorce attorneys are experts at tracking down hidden assets. By working with an accountant to do an independent review of your recent tax returns, your lawyer can spot miscalculations and overpayments. After your attorney has a firm grasp of your actual shared assets, he or she can go to bat for you in court.
2: Transferring Assets to Friends
Are you wondering what happened to that rare book collection your spouse poured over or that extra four-wheeler that used to sit in the garage? If your future ex wants to safeguard assets, they might transfer goods to family or friends. To make assets even more difficult to track down, some people convert existing assets into other goods, and give them away. For example, your ex might have sold his baseball card collection online, and then used the money to buy gift cards for a friend to hang onto for a few months.
Although it might seem impossible to hunt down assets that may have been given to a friend, your lawyer can use bank statements and social media to look for suspicious activity. For example, your lawyer might notice a large deposit on one day, followed by a similar large expense on another day. By following the paper trail, your lawyer might be able to zero in on where to look online. If a friend or family member posted something suspicious like "gotta love it when friends get divorced," your attorney could subpoena that person's records to look for the hidden assets.
These days, social media is a powerful tool that lawyers use all the time. In fact, one recent report showed that 81% of matrimonial attorneys had seen an increase in social media use in the courtroom over the past five years. By following the clues and searching social media, your attorney might be able to find your stuff.
3: Underreporting Income
When it comes to hiding marital assets, some dishonest people get even more creative. Instead of trying to disguise existing assets, they might ask their employer to hold off on bonuses or let them use a company account. Some people even falsify their income documents to make it look like they make less money than they really do.
However, your attorney can sort things out by checking into business accounts, paystubs, and employment paperwork. For example, if you suspect that your spouse received a promotion, your attorney could subpoena the employer to find out the official salary and job title of your soon-to-be-ex.
It might seem scary to do a little detective work, but by doing your due diligence, you can get what is rightfully yours. For more information, contact an experienced divorce attorney.