Recognizing Financial Fraud in a Virginia Divorce
Divorce is typically already a contentious situation, creating strong feelings of anger and sadness, and even betrayal in some situations. These feelings might make you distrust your spouse and leave you wondering if he or she is hiding assets. Fortunately, hiding assets is not the norm and, in most cases, your spouse is probably not holding an offshore bank account with millions of dollars.
Red Flags that Could Signal Fraud
Paying attention to changes with your spouse may signal something could be happening. These are not absolute indicators, but there are some signs to watch for, including:
- Mail suddenly being rerouted to his or her office or another location
- Sudden influx of new mail
- Lying or being deceptive
- Unexplained changes to normal routines
- Loaning money to friends or other family members without knowledge or consent
- Concealing transactions from you
- Covering computer screen or closing windows when you walk in
- Unusual and unexplained cash withdrawals from the bank
The more red flags you notice, the greater the chance that your spouse is concealing some type of financial information from you. There is also a chance your spouse is not hiding money but is spending it and doesn’t want you to know about. A court can penalize a spouse for minimizing marital assets by spending or depleting them. Examples can include:
- Gambling losses
- Destroying marital property on purpose
- Selling expensive assets for much lower amount than they are worth
- Money spent on extra-marital affair — gifts, hotels, trips, etc.
- Excessive spending habits
Other Types of Financial Fraud
In addition to hiding assets or depleting them, there are other questionable activities that could constitute financial fraud. These could involve forgery or even outright fraudulent activities like lying on your taxes, a fraudulent insurance claim, etc.
The Use of Experts when Financial Fraud is Suspected
If you are preparing for a divorce and you have a strong feeling that money and/or assets have disappeared, or your spouse has accounts they are not disclosing, there are options to ascertain what is going on. You may need the expertise of a forensic accountant. A forensic accountant works to uncover the paper trail of potentially missing funds, as well as making a valuation on the marital family income, determining if separate property has been co-mingled, and identifying whether assets have been depleted and/or purposely run down. Forensic accountants can also provide a valuation on businesses and other complex assets that need to undergo distribution in a divorce, like retirement accounts.
Financial experts typically review various records, bank statements, business ledgers, credit card bills, property appraisals, retirement accounts, and more. If your spouse has deferred compensation plans, bonuses, and other fringe benefits they “forgot” to declare, a financial expert can uncover these assets.
Retaining a Virginia Divorce Attorney
If you are preparing to file for divorce or you’ve been served with divorce papers, you need a skilled Virginia divorce attorney to represent your interests. The team at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC have years of experience handling divorces throughout the state, including those that are complex and high-net-worth asset portfolios. Contact our office at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.