Divorce is stressful, and an acrimonious divorce can take things to the next level. After child custody arrangements, the division of marital property is generally the most hotly contested component of any divorce. Texas courts aim for a division of marital property that is just and right in light of the unique circumstances of the case. If your spouse is hiding assets, however, it makes this just and right division that much more complicated. There are several signs you should be aware of that can be indicative of asset hiding. If you’re divorcing, consult with a knowledgeable Houston divorce attorney today.
Your Family’s Financials
It’s not uncommon for one spouse to handle the family’s financials, and if that spouse doesn’t happen to be you, it’s time to better acquaint yourself with your financial situation. Gather several years’ worth of tax returns and supporting documents and do some investigating. Your taxes should reflect both you and your spouse’s incomes, and there are several items you’ll want to pay close attention to, including:
- Schedule B, which covers all interest and dividends earned over the year
- Schedule D, which covers capital gains and losses (these are related to selling assets and can provide clues about dipping into brokerage accounts)
- Form 1099-R, which reflects distributions from retirement accounts
Any of these can point to suspicious activity that may be taking place. If your spouse is currently in the process of funneling funds, however, it may not be reflected on any tax forms yet.
If you own a family business that your spouse manages (or if your spouse owns a business), it can provide him or her with plenty of opportunities to hide funds. Funneling personal funds into a business account is a surprisingly easy and effective means of obscuring one’s financials. When personal and business funds become commingled, it can be extremely difficult to prove which is which. Pay attention to corporate taxes as well, and take note if a recent year’s return shows a marked discrepancy that can’t be explained easily.
Financial Red Flags
While your taxes and financial documents will provide you with an overview of your household’s financials, there are everyday telltale signs that your spouse may be hiding assets in order to deprive you of what is rightfully yours. These can include:
- When your spouse suddenly changes his or her spending habits, it can be a sign that he or she is either spending down your marital assets or is hoarding assets for his or her own benefit. People rarely change their spending habits without a good reason for doing so.
- When your spouse purposefully attempts to keep you in the financial dark, it isn’t a good sign. For instance, if your spouse schedules private meetings with a financial planner, it’s time to ask yourself why you’re being left out of the process.
- When your spouse puts you on a budget or provides you with an allowance instead of including you in the financial decision making, he or she is depriving you of your rightful role as a financial partner in your marriage. If this budget or allowance is quite generous, you may not be inclined to complain (or to dig any deeper into the financial situation) – and this is likely because your spouse doesn’t want you snooping into your own financials.
- When your spouse begins frequently moving money from one account to another, you should be wary. While there are legitimate reasons to transfer funds (such as to obtain a better interest rate), moving money around can be a sign that your spouse is up to no good. Again, when personal and business finances are commingled, it can be extremely difficult to disentangle them, which makes it that much harder to ascertain the true value of your marital property.
- When you find unexpected activity in your retirement and/or investment accounts, it’s time to pay attention. Monitor these accounts yourself and acquaint yourself with their general trends. If you notice something that doesn’t compute, it could be a sign that your spouse is engaging in funny business.
Divorce is overwhelming, and your natural inclination may be to bury your head in the sand. While this is completely understandable, it isn’t in you and your children’s best interests. Many people are under the mistaken belief that divorce will simply take its course and whatever will be will be. On the contrary, the more proactive you are from the outset, the better your chances of obtaining a divorce outcome that protects your financial future.
While it’s easy to say be proactive, you may not know where to begin. There are a few basic steps you can take to help you move in the right direction, including:
- Work closely with an experienced Houston divorce lawyer from the outset.
- Do your homework by acquainting yourself with your household financials, and share your findings with your divorce attorney
- If something strikes you as financially dubious, it probably is – bring it to your divorce lawyer‘s attention.
- Pay close attention to your financials throughout the divorce process.
- Follow your divorce attorney’s advice regarding your current financial dealings – he or she may have suggestions that help in the present.
If yours is a high-asset divorce and/or you own a family business, your finances are likely to be far more complicated. If this is the case, you’ll probably need to bring in a forensic accountant to ensure you obtain an accurate valuation of your marital assets.
If You’re Concerned That Your Spouse May Be Hiding Assets, Consult with an Experienced Houston Divorce Attorney Today
Divorce can bring out the very worst in a person, and if your spouse isn’t above hiding marital assets, it can make your divorce that much more difficult. The dedicated divorce lawyers at The Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston, are committed to aggressively advocating for your case’s best possible resolution. We’re here to help you, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 713-781-7775 for a free consultation today.