Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets?

 By: Edward L. Amaral, Jr., Esq.
The division of assets and liabilities can be one of the most difficult tasks in a divorce today. Many people commit to marriage without a Pre-Nuptial Agreement or without substantial knowledge of their fiance's financial standing. Then when the couple find themselves in a divorce down the line, there can be confusion, fighting and an abundance of questions. You may believe that your spouse is being truthful in his/her financial statement, or you may find yourself pondering the very realistic possibility that your spouse is concealing assets.

Why would your spouse attempt to hide assets from you?

He or she may do so in an effort to minimize their divorce settlement obligations. If your spouse shows a lower income and insignificant assets, your divorce settlement amount will be lower than it should be. The same situation would exist if your spouse decided to add additional and ficticious debt. This can be extremely simple to do when one spouse handles the finances and the other spouse is uninvolved, uninformed and perhaps even uninterested in the details of the family finances.

It is also very possible that a spouse would conceal assets out of revenge, out of fear of not having substantial funds post-divorce or just out of plain selfishness. In most cases, the party concealing assets feels as though their assets were earned only by them and should not be shared, however, this is incorrect and what constitutes a marital asset and contribution by spouses towards those assets is defined by state statute and case law.

If you suspect that your soon-to-be ex might be hiding assets, income and/or fabricating debt in order to minimize child support and/or alimony payments, you should conduct an asset search at the very onset of your divorce action or, if you can, prior to even filing for a divorce.

Most asset searches cost less than $300.00. At Asset Searches Plus, Inc., for example, a nationwide asset search on your spouse costs $185.00 and includes the following information:

(a) The subject's full name and address;
(b) Driver's license information;
(c) Real estate;
(d) Motor vehicles;
(e) Watercrafts;
(f) FAA certifications and aircrafts;
(g) Professional licenses;
(h) Bankruptcies;
(i) Liens and judgments;
(j) UCC filings;
(k) Corporate entities associated with the subject;
(l) Voter registration information;
(m) Sexual offenses;
(n) Employment information; and
(o) State and federal criminal records.

These searches usually take 1-3 days to conduct. Detailed reports are then emailed to you or your attorney. Upon receipt, an informed decision can be made by you with how to proceed with your case. If after reviewing the asset search report, it can be reasonably established that the opposing party has declared all assets, then the client can have peace of mind knowing that nothing has been inadvertently concealed or omitted. If not, you will have an excellent discovery tool to recover what is rightfully yours.
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