When you begin the divorce process, each spouse is required to disclose a variety of financial information. The state of Colorado requires a considerable amount of documentation of income, assets and expenses.
Both spouses must provide complete and accurate information so that each side and the court know exactly what they’re dealing with as they negotiate a property division settlement in their divorce. Unfortunately, some divorcing spouses are less than honest in their disclosures.
How are assets hidden?
What if you suspect that your spouse is hiding or undervaluing assets to keep you from walking away from the marriage with a fair share of them? The four most common ways spouses do this are:
- Not disclosing an asset
- Claiming an asset was lost
- Giving or “lending” an asset to someone else
- Creating false debt
Fortunately, some professionals know where to look for hidden assets -– such as forensic accountants. However, if you’re not sure your spouse is hiding assets or you’re not ready to hire someone to find them, you can do some sleuthing yourself.
Where to look for hidden assets
It’s typically best to do this before you begin divorce proceedings when you have greater access to records in case your spouse starts moving things around. Look at bank, investment and retirement plan statements. If you have a mortgage, then look at closing documents. Those typically list sources of income, assets and liabilities. Also, don’t forget about safes and safe deposit boxes.
Tax returns also provide a wealth of information. It’s especially crucial to look at recent tax returns if your spouse has always handled the taxes and you’ve just signed your name. You may need the help of a tax professional for this. Just don’t go to the one who does your taxes.
If your spouse owns their own business, then this presents a host of opportunities to hide money. You may find that a forensic accountant is worth their fee if your spouse is a business owner or has several complex assets.
It’s always wise to seek legal guidance as early as possible if you’re considering divorce or you believe your spouse is. Getting help with these first steps can make a big difference as you determine what is at stake in your divorce and what your goals are for your property and support agreements.