How to Find Out if Your Spouse is Hiding Assets in Your Virginia Divorce
When you are preparing for a divorce, your Virginia divorce attorney will advise you to collect all your financial documents and prepare a detailed list of your assets and liabilities. Unfortunately, there are times when one spouse will not provide an accurate list of their financials. Perhaps they have an account they don’t want the other spouse to know about or they have been funneling marital assets into a separate account.
Some spouses believe if they hide assets or spend money, then it cannot be divided during the divorce. Unfortunately, this behavior can result in legal consequences. It can also prolong the divorce, increasing legal fees for both spouses.
What is Considered a Hidden Asset?
Hidden assets can be more than just money that your spouse is physically hiding somewhere. The court can consider an asset to be hidden if something is not disclosed or misrepresented. Examples include:
- Overstating debts
- Listing higher expenses
- Reporting you have a lower income
- Hiding, undervaluing, or understanding personal and marital property
Assets can be both tangible and intangible. Tangible assets are ones that are in a physical form and can be liquidated or sold. These include cars, homes, jewelry, collectibles, furniture, art pieces, and more. An intangible asset is one doesn’t necessarily have a physical form but still has value. Intangible assets are items like stocks, royalties, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, intellectual property, etc.
If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, there are several different methods attorneys use to track them down.
Discovery During Your Divorce
The discovery phase is an important part of a divorce. This is where your attorney can issue formal requests for information from your spouse. These requests come in the form of:
- Interrogatories that require sworn answers
- Request for production of documents which includes information that is stored electronically
- Subpoenas that can be addressed to financial institutions, your spouse’s employer, etc.
- Depositions where your spouse will have to answer questions
- Inspections where your attorney will physically look at property in your spouse’s control, like a safe or safe deposit box
A savvy divorce attorney knows the techniques to undercover hidden assets or get a spouse to admit their actions under oath.
Use of Experts
In some cases, your attorney may request to retain an expert, like a forensic accountant. Forensic accountants are often used in complex or high-asset divorces to provide a valuation on a business or other specific assets. Their knowledge is also valuable in cases when a spouse suspects the other is hiding assets. They study financial account statements, tax returns, and use their resources to track down both domestic and/or international accounts where your spouse may have transferred money or assets.
Retaining a Virginia Divorce Attorney
It’s imperative that spouses are honest and upfront about personal property and marital assets during a divorce. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, it’s important to retain a skilled Virginia divorce attorney to represent you. Contact the team at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC at 703-997-4982 today to schedule a consultation.