Hidden Assets — Is It Really Possible to Find Them in Divorce?

All too often during a divorce, one of the spouses is not playing it straight when it comes to assets. They stash cash in the hopes of keeping it from their soon-to-be ex. They lie, they cheat and they don’t want their schemes to be revealed.

However, there are ways to search for and find hidden assets. First, there is such a thing as a forensic accountant. These are individuals whose profession is simply to find stashed cash. And they do a good job of it. A recently published book by forensic accounting expert Mark Kohn entitled How They Stash the Cash reveals tools and tactics for finding hidden assets. Forensic accountants are costly to hire, though, so the book and a good lawyer may have to do in your situation.

Here are some items to watch out for when it comes to hidden cash during a divorce.

  1. If your soon-to-be ex is self-employed, has more knowledge about the financial side of the business and family than you and is seeking to persuade you not to use an attorney for the divorce, that’s a big red flag.
  2. Review your cost-of-living expenses as opposed to income. If your home mortgage payment takes up more than 50 percent of earned income, then there may be some hidden cash somewhere.
  3. Compare the cost of your lifestyle with reported income. Again, if that lifestyle cost is lavish but your income is low, there’s a place to investigate further.
  4. Does a spouse who owns a business have many business entities that appear to be “shell” businesses to hide money?
  5. Review financial records, including joint credit cards, joint bank accounts and anything else you can get a hold of. Look for extremely costly expenses, such as $10,000 for a small gardening project, or travel expenses that seem way too high for the actual travel and entertainment. It’s important to ferret out through review where the monies are being hidden.
  6. Look at IRS records, not just from this past year, but also from many years past. Review unusual deductions and expenses listed on tax forms.
  7. Did your spouse suddenly purchase some big-ticket items that have not been listed, such as antiques or jewelry? Look through your credit card and bank statements.
  8. Remember, the numbers exist somewhere. You just need to find them.

Your attorney can be a partner in this. An experienced attorney understands where to look and what to ask for to protect your rights. An attorney can request that all these records and documents, including pay stubs, work bonus records and deferred compensation plan details, be handed over to you during the discovery process, which is part of the process of a divorce proceeding.

Also, watch out for other items that include alleged loans in which the person your soon-to-be ex “lent” money to is going to return it and friends who will lie for your soon-to-be ex.

Contact the Law Office of Len Conner & Associates

At the Law Office of Len Conner & Associates, we offer a free initial consultation in all family law matters, including issues relating to hidden assets and support matters in a divorce. Send us an e-mail or call our office at (972) 445-1500 or (817) 288-4168 if you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Or call us toll free at (877) 613-5800 for an appointment.

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