If your spouse has maintained complete control of all banking information, is secretive about his or your financial affairs, deletes or clears financial programs like QuickBooks™, or maintains a questionable relationship with financial advisors, you may need to consider searching for hidden assets during your divorce. If you can discover hidden assets and expose those to the court, the judge will handle disputes of property and accounts much differently, and more likely in your favor.
First, look for telltale signs of financial dishonesty. If your spouse frequently buys expensive items like boats or cars, yet sells them quickly and regularly, make a note. If you know the sale and purchase value of these items it could be possible to determine from where the money is coming. If he fails to report earnings or understates revenue, alert your attorney at once. If you have limited or no access to your financial accounts, yet still have suspicions, look for less technical oddities. Does your spouse visit a financial planner frequently? Too frequently? Has his or her relationship with friends, parents, or siblings suddenly adopted a businesslike tone or has he promised them money? Often we see devious spouses transferring money to these people until the divorce is over in hopes of “protecting” (that is, stealing) these funds from their spouse.
Second, gain access to your family’s financial information. Approach your spouse. Ask for account numbers and passwords. You are entitled to ALL this information. A good rule of thumb is this: if your spouse knows it, you are entitled to know it. Like all rules of thumb this one has its exceptions, but always start from that place and see where that takes you. If you are getting a divorce you will need access to funds independent of your spouse anyway. If he or she resists, becomes enraged, or redirects your requests, speak to your divorce attorney to find legal means of accessing that information. Ideally, you ought to maintain financial awareness from the beginning of your marriage; if your spouse has made a consistent practice of funneling money offshore or hiding it from you, it could become very difficult to notice and recover after decades of precedent.