A recent study concluded 37% of adults in the U.S. stash away money unbeknownst to their romantic partner. The research, commissioned by online retailer StockX, says the average amount hidden comes to just over $2,000.
While there are many reasons why even happily married individuals squirrel away funds, it’s crucial for spouses seeking a divorce to know when their soon-to-be-ex may be hiding marital assets. It’s even more critical to find assets a spouse fails to mention in a financial disclosure form.
Where do spouses hide marital property?
Knowing where to look is half the battle for tracking them down, especially for high-net-worth couples. In general, unscrupulous spouses hide these assets through four methods:
- They deny that the asset exists
- They claim the asset was lost
- They create false debt
- They transfer the asset to a third party
Tracking hidden assets
One of the best ways to find hidden marital property is to hire an experienced divorce attorney who works with forensic accountants, if necessary, to track them down. Often, a paper trail exists, and the best place to start is combing through tax returns, which can reveal:
- Income streams or assets not disclosed elsewhere
- Undeclared assets generating dividends or interest
- Assets purchased by a business entity
- Capital gains or losses from securities or other investments
- Rental income from real estate, royalties, partnerships or other entities not disclosed
Not all assets are easy to find, such as money deposited into an offshore account. However, many spouses physically hide money or documents around the house in a safe or filing cabinet or a bank safe deposit box.
Fighting for your fair share
One of the best ways to ensure you receive an equitable outcome is to gather as much information and documentation prior to filing for divorce. You can do this by taking inventory of all individual and shared accounts and make a list of all property owned by one or both parties. Having this information for your lawyer can save you a lot of time and money and put you on solid footing for a brighter future.