Recently on our legal forum a wife asked, “I am getting a divorce. My husband has been in charge of the finances for years, and I suspect he has hidden assets from me. We are going into mediation, and I want to protect myself and ensure my children are well cared for after the divorce. What are my options?”
Even the most amicable divorce can be complicated. Unfortunately, if you have a spouse who is deceptive or intentionally hiding assets the divorce can be even more difficult to litigate or negotiate. It’s important to understand in every divorce proceeding when it is time to hire an expert or professional to help you with your divorce.
Based on your question it’s clear you may need to hire a financial expert, other couples, however, may need to consider hiring experts for a variety of reasons: custodial help to negotiate child custody and visitation, mental health experts to ensure children are mentally supported, or financial analysts to locate property and ensure income is divided equitably.
Let’s take a look at several steps you will need to take immediately.
- Understand divorce law in your state.
The first step is to review the law for divorce in your state. State laws will determine how marital assets are split. Currently most states are divided into community property states which require a 50/50 split of marital assets. Income and assets which were acquired prior to the marriage are generally excluded (unless they were comingled during the marriage) and equitable distribution states, which allow the court to attempt to split everything in an equitable manner, although this does not mean the assets will be split in half.
- Determine if your spouse is really trying to hide assets.
It’s illegal to intentionally hide assets in a divorce. Before making this accusation it’s important to determine whether this is really what your husband is doing.
Financial information can be gathered in divorce through the process of discovery. Although this process can vary by state, it can include demands for documentation (financial statements, tax information, accounting records), inspection demands, requests for admission, and testimony under oath (a deposition).
If your husband lies during the discovery process or fails to provide financial information that he is compelled to turn over to the courts he could face high fines or charges of perjury.
If you believe your spouse has lied during a deposition regarding his financial status or simply refuses to provide information he could potentially be charged with a crime, and you need to talk to your divorce lawyer.
- Hire the right experts.
Finally, if you believe your spouse may be hiding information it’s important not only to hire a divorce lawyer, but also to hire other experts, including income experts, real estate experts, business evaluation experts, or a detective.
If you are in the process of divorce and your spouse refuses to provide information about your income, assets, property, or businesses, you can get help. Not only are their legal resources available to compel him to produce the right information, but there are also experts who have the right expertise to gather the information you need.
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