Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

Your spouse could be hiding assets during the divorce

You have dozens of things to worry about during divorce, most of which are probably running through your head all at the same time. Maybe you are concerned that you will not get alimony or that your soon-to-be ex-spouse might disagree with what you believe are your child's best interests. In the middle of all this, you could be overlooking a very important question. What if your spouse is hiding assets?

Chances are that if you are divorcing, the trust you once had with your spouse is long gone. Although you may trust the divorce process itself, you cannot rely on him or her to provide the correct information. This is true even if you think your spouse is not capable of doing such a thing.

Be proactive with asset division

It is a misconception that each person walks away with exactly half of everything in a divorce. In New Jersey, marital assets -- property that is owned by both you and your spouse -- is divided equitably. This means that you are entitled to an equitable portion of marital assets.

You cannot reach a fair division of property if some of the assets are not on the table. Before you ask your spouse for a divorce, be sure to collect all relevant financial information. This includes things like bank statements, mortgage closing documents, tax returns and more. You can still be proactive if your spouse was the one who asked for a divorce. Simply doing your best to access all of that same financial information as soon as possible can be extremely helpful.

Where did my assets go?

Assets do not simply disappear into thin air, but your spouse might try to convince you of this or something similar. Although each situation is different, there are four common methods. These are:

  • Temporarily transferring an asset to another person
  • Pretending an asset was lost
  • Claiming the asset never existed
  • Creating false debt

Whether you simply suspect that your spouse is hiding assets or have already noticed that some have disappeared, you may not know where to go next. Your mortgage closing document should contain lists of your marital assets and liabilities as well as any sources of income. Tax returns can also help uncover information that proves an asset exists.

You deserve better

There is no denying that ending a marriage is an emotional experience, but that does not mean it should have to be hard. Unfortunately, for many people it is. When divorcing a spouse who is combative, uncooperative or generally difficult, the process can certainly take a toll on you and your health.

This is especially true if you know or strongly suspect that your spouse is hiding assets. There is no way that you can get a fair portion of the marital property if you cannot locate those hidden assets. This can threaten your financial stability after divorce, so you should not take any chances. When you work with an attorney, he or she can use prior knowledge and experience to help guide your search for those assets.

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