Divorce is complicated and time-consuming, even in ideal circumstances where spouses approach their split amicably. However, divorce between spouses with significant assets is often much more complex, and can easily lead to troubling behavior by either party. In many cases, one or both spouses may attempt to hide assets from each other, to avoid losing them in the property division process. While this is certainly an understandable motive, it is typically illegal to do so.
If you suspect your spouse hides assets from you or does not fully disclose their resources, it is wise to use the legal tools you have available to identify these assets and protect your own interests and rights. The law views divorce much in the same way that it views the dissolution of a business, and you may have opportunities to claim assets that rightfully belong to you.
Begin with what you know
Without specific evidence of hidden assets, it is wise to start with the knowledge and documentation you already have. Both you and your spouse should make a voluntary declaration of your assets as part of the divorce process, so this is a good place to begin.
As you review voluntary declarations, make sure to look for omissions or incomplete information. In some cases, a spouse may simply forget to include an asset and needs a proper reminder.
Requesting financial records and interrogatories
If you believe that your spouse hides financial information, you may want to make a formal request for their financial records. It is common for one spouse to handle the bulk of the family’s financial affairs, including taxes and investing. You have a legal right to view many of these documents, if you request them properly. Reviewing financial records and comparing them to financial declarations may shed light on hidden or inaccurately reported finances.
You may also need to use an interrogatory, which includes written questions that your spouse must answer truthfully within a given amount of time. While these motions can prolong the divorce process, the benefits of careful financial examination are often significant.
Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to question your spouse in person, with appropriate legal witnesses and representation. Depositions involve sworn testimony and take place before a court reporter and each party’s representation, so you may use anything your spouse says in court at a later time, if necessary.
Protecting your rights and priorities throughout a divorce is a crucial part of building the next chapter of your life, once this difficult chapter concludes. Make sure to use high-quality legal resources and guidance as needed to build a divorce strategy that meets your needs while ensuring that your rights remain secure.