Many Spouses in Washington May Hide Assets During Divorce
Many spouses report financial deception during marriage, which suggests that many people may also hide separate or marital assets during divorce.
In Washington, property that spouses acquire during marriage belongs equally to both. As a result, during divorce, this property is divided between spouses in a way that a court deems equitable and fair. To ensure an equitable division, the court requires a full inventory of community property and each spouse's separate property. Consequently, when spouses in Redmond hide assets, the result is often an unfair division of assets.
Spouses who conceal assets during divorce may face serious consequences. These range from criminal charges to a divorce settlement that favors the other spouse. Still, this type of deception may occur frequently during divorce.
Deceit During Marriage
Earlier this year, a CreditCards.com report found that it is not uncommon for people in serious relationships to conceal assets. According to CNBC, more than 7.2 million Americans reported hiding an entire credit card or bank account from a spouse or a partner whom they cohabited with.
The same report found that it wasn't unusual for people to fail to tell their spouses or partners about significant purchases. For example, about 14 percent of women had made a purchase worth more than $500 without telling their husbands or partners. More than one-quarter of men reported doing the same.
This report did not focus on people who were getting divorced. However, this high rate of deceit among couples suggests that, when facing the potential loss of assets during divorce, many spouses might resort to similar tactics.
Investigating Hidden Assets
People getting divorced can take a few steps to check whether a spouse is hiding assets, according to The Huffington Post. Spouses can seek the assistance of a forensic accountant or a divorce attorney who has experience in finding concealed assets. Then, spouses can directly obtain or subpoena the other spouse's financial documents to look for the hidden assets.
A careful review of pay stubs, tax statements and bank statements may yield proof that some assets have not been disclosed. Spouses should look for discrepancies between reported income and the funds deposited in known bank accounts. Spouses should be alert to unexplained purchases or outgoing transfers. Finally, spouses should confirm that all bills and other household expenses are being paid from known bank accounts, rather than hidden accounts.
Potential Electronic Evidence
Forbes explains that spouses may also be able to find electronic evidence of hidden assets. Emails, text messages or social media activity may all point to deceit on the part of one spouse. For example, posts on social media could reveal all of the following:
- Undisclosed upcoming promotions or business opportunities
- Large purchases or pending expenses
- The temporary transfer of assets to other people
Forbes notes that some of this electronic evidence may be used in court. Even if the evidence isn't admissible, it may bring a spouse's credibility into question or provide grounds for further investigation of that spouse's finances.
Unfortunately, independently uncovering hidden assets in an effective and legal way can be difficult for many spouses. Given the huge ramifications that the oversight of assets can have, spouses who suspect concealment should consider seeking legal advice. A divorce attorney may be able to assist a spouse in assessing the likelihood that assets are hidden by conducting a thorough financial investigation.