In an ideal scenario, everyone would get along and there would be full transparency and cooperation by parties during a divorce. In reality, for most the situation is less than ideal. There may be underlying circumstances that led to the divorce making it difficult to trust your spouse. Unfortunately, that lack of trust tends to continue during the divorce proceedings, and can influence one’s decision-making and willingness to cooperate.
Many couples today have complex portfolios of assets, including real estate, checking and savings accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, deferred compensation, stock, business interests, valuable personal property, and more.
As a result, it is not uncommon for one spouse to try to obscure assets from the other spouse in a divorce, particularly when one spouse has greater knowledge of or control over the couple’s finances than the other. Attempting to hide assets also tends to occur more frequently in cases where the spouse in control of the finances plans on filing for divorce months before actually doing so.
Parties who try to hide assets in a divorce use several different strategies to try to conceal them. One of the most common is by transferring title for property, say a vehicle, to a third party’s name and control until after the divorce has been finalized.
Spouses intent on deception may also underreport their income, defer salary or benefits, conceal assets inside a business, undervalue a business interest or deplete business assets, or even create phony debt with family or friends.
It can be difficult, if not impossible in some cases, for the innocent spouse to track such fraudulent transfers or attempts to hide assets. Hiring skilled legal counsel can help you uncover assets that should rightfully be considered when determining support and negotiating a settlement in your divorce.
Your divorce attorney can utilize Wisconsin law and discovery practices to demand your spouse produce documents like tax returns and financial statements to help identify assets your spouse may be trying to hide.
In addition to demanding production of documents, your attorney may use other discovery methods to compel sworn testimony from your spouse regarding said assets.
Your attorney may also work with experts, such as forensic accountants who are skilled at tracing money moving in and out of your spouse’s accounts during your marriage. This process can identify whether your spouse has made “gifts” to a friend or family member or used some other tactic to conceal marital assets.
Another way an attorney can uncover obscured information is by using a subpoena to a third party, such as a bank or other financial institution where you suspect your spouse has unreported accounts, to compel them to produce said information.
Hidden assets that remain undetected in a divorce can lead to an unfair settlement, and other future repercussions. If you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets in an attempt to limit the amount you will receive in a final division of your marital estate, your divorce attorney can help.
To learn more, contact one of the experienced Family Law attorneys at Schott, Bublitz & Engel, S.C., in Waukesha today online or call us at 262.827.1700.