Divorcing your spouse is a painful and frustrating situation that can seem to drag on for a lifetime. It is especially difficult if there are several high value assets like homes, vehicles or cash between the two of you which need to be divided. It’s not uncommon for people to try to hide assets during a divorce, thereby keeping more for themselves when everything is said and done.
This is a completely illegal practice. Nonetheless, it happens frequently, and is especially common when one person handles most or all the family finance.
Know the signs
A skilled divorce attorney will know the best ways to sniff out places your ex may be funneling their money. If you have growing suspicions that they are trying to hide assets, though, keep an eye out for these early warning signs:
- Strange mail– If you start to notice letters from banks, credit cards, credit unions, etc., that you don’t recognize, then they may be places your spouse is storing money they hope to not have to claim during your divorce.
- Sudden major purchases– If your spouse starts going on major shopping sprees for art, vehicles and other high-dollar items, they may be buying them to convert their liquid assets to physical ones with the intent of underreporting the value.
- “Paying back” friends– This is a fairly common tactic. If your spouse begins giving money to trusted friends or relatives for supposed debts, they may be harboring their assets in the other person’s account until after the divorce – at which point the other individual would return it.
- Unexpected post office charges– This can be a difficult sign to spot, but if you begin to see regular, small charges from a post office, your spouse may have opened a safety deposit box. Anything from paystubs and bank statements to hidden cash and other valuables may be stored in a secretly owned safety deposit box.
- Unwillingness to use attorneys – Divorce attorneys know how to handle divorces; many even specialize in dealing with high asset divorces. They know how to find hidden assets. If your spouse suddenly becomes adamant that the two of you solve your divorce together – without the use of attorneys – it may be a red flag.
If you observe any of these behaviors during your divorce, take note and be sure to let your divorce attorney know as soon as possible. None of these signs are necessarily smoking guns, but they can be good indicators that something may be going on.
Georgia law varies slightly from county to county, but if your spouse is being disingenuous about their assets, they may face severe penalties. These could include fines, dismissal of their claim, being forced to pay your attorney fees or even jail time.