How to Spot Hidden Income and Assets
Although many divorcing couples take great care when disclosing their finances to each other, including their assets and income, a surprising number fail to do so, leaving the wronged party with an unfair property settlement agreement or alimony award. Fortunately, it is possible to uncover hidden assets and income before the court finalizes a divorce, so if you and your spouse have decided to file for divorce and you need help accounting for and dividing your marital assets, it is critical to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale property division lawyer who can ensure that any property settlement agreement reached with your spouse is fair and equitable.
What Types of Assets do Divorcing Parties Attempt to Hide?
Although it is possible to hide a wide range of marital assets during divorce proceedings, the most common include:
- Precious metals, as there are no strict reporting requirements when it comes to purchasing gold or silver under $10,000, which means that there is often no paper trail, aside from the original purchase paperwork, to verify the existence and amount of precious metals owned by one spouse;
- Stock certificates in paper form, which can make it difficult to track down the asset by checking tax returns and other financial records;
- Cash or valuables kept in a safe or safe deposit box that are accessible by only one party; and
- Real estate owned by a business, which can escape the notice of spouses and their attorneys if they fail to obtain corporate tax returns and determine whether there is evidence of any other valuable assets concealed in the business’ name.
Unfortunately, assets are not the only types of property that unscrupulous spouses may attempt to hide during the divorce process, as it has become increasingly simple to hide income, especially from self-employment sources.
Unreported or Hidden Income
There are a number of different forms of employment that enable people to hide or understate their incomes. For instance, those who are engaged in cash employment, which includes work as a waiter, lawn service provider, handyman, hairdresser, or any other job where a substantial portion of pay takes the form of cash, often have an easier time hiding those assets from an unsuspecting spouse.
The best way to identify these types of assets is to carefully review the person’s stated expenses in their financial affidavit, including monthly rent, car payments, payments to creditors, and utilities. Even when a person does not admit to earning as much as he or she does, pointing to these bills can help demonstrate that an individual at least makes enough to cover those expenses. Other common ways to hide self-employment income include:
- Charging personal expenses to a business credit account;
- Delaying a bonus until after a divorce is finalized;
- Temporarily transferring funds to a third party;
- Prepaying taxes; and
- Making unusually high retirement contributions.
To learn more about how to discover whether your spouse is hiding assets, please contact our legal team today.
Schedule a Case Review with a Dedicated Attorney
If you believe that your spouse may be hiding assets or income and are considering divorce, please call experienced Florida property division lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 to learn more about your legal options.