Divorce is sometimes accompanied with great passion and emotion, with one or both spouses not wanting to compromise on the division of marital property. Some spouses even go to great lengths to hide money in an attempt to keep the other party from getting his or her equitable share.
If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, discuss the issue with your divorce lawyer right away. It is better to catch the problem early than to try and sort it out after the divorce is finalized.
Here are some of the best places to look if you suspect your spouse is not being honest about his or her assets:
Credit agencies: The big credit bureaus - TransUnion, Experian and Equifax - all keep records of an individual's credit report. If credit was required to open an account, these agencies will have a record of it.
Income tax returns: These are a wealth of information, since anything that generates revenue or causes loss to income has to be reported. Investments, trusts, real estate holdings and more show up on the returns. The IRS will send copies of returns upon request.
Savings and checking accounts: If you have children, be especially wary of accounts set up in their names. While custodial accounts can be opened for a child in the guise of saving for college, the controlling adult has access to the funds and can use them freely. In other bank accounts, look for large purchases that you were never made aware of. Also look for large cash withdrawals, especially if the money is unaccounted for.
While these tips can help you get a start, it is important to seek a lawyer's help if you think your spouse may be hiding assets. A lawyer can help you substantiate claims and ensure that your rights are protected during the divorce.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Finding Your Ex's Hidden Assets," Brendan Lyle, July 12, 2012.