It’s against the law to hide assets during your California divorce. It can lead to criminal charges, including perjury and contempt of court.
That doesn’t stop people from doing it. People tend to do so out of either fear or spite.
The only way to protect yourself is to work with your family law attorney to uncover those assets. Sometimes, this is a lot easier than many people imagine. Here are some places you can check.
#1) Tax Returns
Try pulling the past five years of tax returns. While a spouse may lie to you or may lie in official court documents, he or she might be hesitant to lie to the IRS. After all, the IRS can levy much steeper criminal penalties against anyone who tries it.
Look at the numbers on the tax return and compare them to your spouse’s stated income and assets. If you find discrepancies, show them to your attorney.
#2) Bank Statements
Are you the spouse who hasn’t had anything to do with finances in the past?
This can breed arrogance in your ex. He or she might just withdraw a whole bunch of money out of your joint account hoping you won’t notice. Sometimes they also fail to make deposits you know should be there, figuring they can just tuck them away into a separate account without noticing. This is especially true for spouses who get bonuses or who need to reimburse expenses.
Of course, if you never look over your statements or your cancelled checks, your ex would be right about that.
#3) The Internet
Your spouse may have set up a Bitcoin account without you knowing it, but you should see signs of Bitcoin transactions in your bank account. It’s also possible to find them by noting the presence of lots of purchases that come from sites that take digital wallet payments. The largest, most common, and most notorious of these? Amazon.com.
Unless you’re a blockchain expert it may be difficult to locate the bitcoin directly. Still, it may be worth involving a forensic accountant if you suspect your spouse is using Bitcoin to hide large sums of money.
Your spouse’s browsing history is another good place to look for hints about your spouse’s activity. You may also find evidence on your spouse’s social media accounts.
#4) Business Records
This applies if your spouse owns a business, especially if you haven’t been involved with the business in any way.
Look for delayed invoicing, sudden spikes in payout activity, or uncleared checks.
Businesses are complex. You might well need to involve a forensic accountant to find the full extent of hidden assets here, too. Consult with your attorney if you have reason to suspect something may be going on.
#5) Physical Locations
Does your spouse have an office or a vacation home you rarely visit? He or she may have been slowly acquiring valuable artwork, precious metals, or other high-value assets which may be liquidated very quickly.
Of course, you shouldn’t break into these places, or go anywhere you aren’t authorized to be. You may discover these assets easily enough simply by looking at the bank statements or by going through old receipts.
Get help with your high-asset divorce.
High-asset divorces are more likely to be high-conflict divorces full of shenanigans like hiding assets. You need an experienced divorce attorney to help you protect yourself. John Bledsoe has been practicing family law since 1991, and can help you safely navigate tough family law problems.
Contact the Law Offices of John A. Bledsoe today to get started.