You aren’t asking for more than your fair share. But receiving what’s fair in a divorce is impossible if your spouse is concealing assets. The only way to have equitable asset division is to know all that is at stake.
Our attorneys at McIntyre Tate LLP know the red flags to watch for in divorce. Hiding assets is not only found in high-net-worth divorces. We’ve seen the attempt to obscure property or its true value at all economic levels.
Property like cars and homes are obvious assets, but the term includes much more.
When divorcing, assets are anything of real value such as the following:
- Retirement Benefits
- 401K Plans
- Checking Accounts
- Savings Accounts
- Deferred Compensation
- Some Insurance Policies
Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state. Equitable does not necessarily mean 50/50 but rather a fair division. For this to happen, all debts and assets must be on the table for everyone to see. Then, and only then, can any agreement approach fairness.
In most cases, inheritance and premarital property are not included in determining asset division.
Ways Spouses Camouflage Assets
The decision to divorce is usually not made at a moment’s notice. Sometimes the split has been years in the making, and one spouse spends that time preparing to file. They prepare by moving money, property, and other valuables out of their name or their possession in an effort to keep it out of the divorce settlement.
Here are some of the ways a spouse begins to hide money:
- They make unusual cash withdrawals.
- They hand over collectibles to a friend (to be returned after the divorce).
- They give money to a relative (to be returned after the divorce).
- They open new bank accounts in the name of a friend or relative.
- They convert cash to bitcoins.
- They defer a bonus at work (to be given them after the divorce).
- They won’t answer your financial questions.
Being Dishonest in Divorce Negotiations
Obscuring their true value does not always stop once they file for divorce. A spouse can lie or withhold information about their valuables and debts in hopes of reducing the divorce’s financial impact on them.
Methods that spouses use to maximize expenses and minimize income and valuables include the following:
- Inflating living expenses
- Reporting lower incomes
- Overstating how much they owe
- Providing false documentation
- Withholding retirement and other accounts
- Underrating business assets
Forensic Accounting Reveals True Value
Fortunately, there are tactics to ferret out hidden and devalued assets as well as overstatements of debt. Our attorneys have the experience and resources to find these hidden assets. We also work with other professionals like forensic accountants, property appraisers, business valuation consultants, and others when cases are particularly complex.
To bring all financial information to the light of day, our discovery process includes the following:
- Investigate your spouse’s financial history
- Examine credit card and bank transactions
- Scrutinize insurance policies
- Evaluate tax returns
- Search for credit, bank, and other financial accounts
- Cross-reference financial records
Our team will thoroughly investigate your spouse's financial history, transactions, and accounts in order to identify any money that is being hidden from you.
Consequences of Hiding Money
Both spouses must sign a financial affidavit during a contested divorce. This affidavit requires a full and honest accounting of liabilities/debts, income, and assets. Lying about their financial picture is perjury. The court can hold the offender in contempt. Punishment can include incarceration and paying their spouse’s legal fees. The judge can also order one spouse to receive some or all the assets the other was attempting to hide or have them pay more in spousal support.
Complex Divorces Require Comprehensive Legal Counsel
If your divorce is complex, high asset, or you simply believe your spouse may hide money from you, call on the legal team of McIntyre Tate LLP. We have more than 150 years of combined experience and focus solely on family and civil law. We are astute at pinpointing discrepancies in financial disclosures, uncovering hidden accounts, and recognizing overstatements of liabilities.
Schedule your initial consultation by calling (401) 351-7700 or reach out by submitting our online form.