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Finding Hidden Income and Assets

On Behalf of | Dec 31, 2021 | Divorce, Property Division

When divorcing, spouses usually disclose all information about income and assets honestly, but sometimes, they don’t. A spouse may have been accumulating wealth out of the purview of the other spouse. Despite the fact that wealth should be subject to equitable division as marital property, the scheming spouse wants to keep it all.

If you suspect your spouse is hiding income and assets, you shouldn’t play detective. Instead, hire an experienced family law attorney like Noreen Banks-Ware who knows how to find those hidden assets and bring them to the attention of the court.

If you live in Lithonia, Georgia, or in Decatur, Conyers, Covington, McDonough, or Lawrenceville, get the assistance you need by calling E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC.

How Are Assets Divided in Georgia Divorces?

Georgia is an equitable division state for divorce, not a community property state like many others. Equitable division is not necessarily a 50/50 split but what the court considers to be fair to both spouses.

All marital property (assets and debts acquired during the marriage) is subject to division. Separate property (possessed by each spouse before the marriage) is not subject to division; however, it is relevant to the court’s decisions regarding equitable division and alimony. For that reason, spouses need to disclose all assets, income, and debt, regardless of their status as separate or marital property.

What Are Some Commonly Hidden Assets or Income?

In some marriages, one spouse handles most if not all the finances. Or, in some marriages, each spouse pays certain bills and handles their own bank accounts and credit cards. That means that when the divorce process begins, a spouse can be in the dark about the marital assets, income, and debt. It may be difficult to even know what to look for, let alone where to look.

A crafty spouse can attempt to hide certain less noticeable assets and income, including:

  • Stock options included in an executive pay package
  • Pensions
  • Money “gifted” to friends or relatives intended to be returned after the divorce is final
  • Cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens
  • Business assets and profits
  • Money transferred to unknown domestic or foreign bank accounts
  • Foreign assets including property
  • Art and other items of significant value
  • Marital property used to support another home, person, or family

How Do You Find Hidden Assets and Income?

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets and income to avoid consideration by the court, the first step you should take is to retain the services of a family law attorney who knows how to uncover them. Your attorney will know what to look for, where to begin, and how to discover them legally.

Legally accessing information is crucial. Just as law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys must obtain evidence of a crime through legal procedures, you must access information your spouse is attempting to conceal through the proper legal process. Your attorney knows how.

Of course, your attorney will look for the obvious first: bank statements, personal and business tax returns, investment portfolios, and retirement accounts. However, your attorney will take a deeper dive into some records, for example, by looking for the origin and destination of any irregular bank deposits or withdrawals. They will also look for property and other assets linked to your spouse’s name and Social Security number.

The best legal tool for finding hidden assets and income in a divorce is the discovery process. Both spouses are required to disclose to the other information pertinent to the divorce. This does require, however, that the right questions are asked in a way that forces the spouse to provide information or risk penalties of perjury.

There are three key discovery tools:

  • Interrogatories are a series of written questions submitted to the spouse which they must answer in full and attest to the veracity and completeness of their answers by signing an oath.
  • Requests for production of documents are made in writing, asking the spouse to provide copies of all requested documents so you and your attorney can review them.
  • Oral testimony under oath, also known as a “deposition,” allows your attorney to ask your spouse questions to which the spouse must respond under oath. You, your attorney, your spouse, your spouse’s attorney, and a court reporter are present during the deposition. The court reporter administers the oath prior to beginning the deposition in which your spouse agrees to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” If your spouse does not, they can be charged with perjury.

Your spouse is allowed to object to any interrogatory, documents request, or question asked in the deposition. By objecting, they may not respond; however, your attorney can argue in court that you are entitled to the information sought, and the court, if agreed, can compel your spouse to comply.

Get the Guidance You Need From an Experienced Attorney

It is obvious that you benefit tremendously from having a family law attorney experienced with legally uncovering hidden assets and income to represent you in divorce. If your spouse takes the risk of hiding assets, they are likely significant to your equitable share of marital property to be awarded in the divorce.

Noreen Banks-Ware is ready to help. All you need to do is call E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC in Lithonia, Georgia, right now to begin the search.