Discovering Assets and Income in Divorce
It is not uncommon for parties contemplating divorce to try to hide assets in an attempt to keep them out of the marital estate that will be up for distribution. One of the biggest red flags as far as potential hidden assets is if the spending habits or lifestyle of a party is way more than would be expected based on their reported income. You should also be wary of a party who owns their own business. If they deal in cash they can easily hide money. Additionally, what they report for tax purposes is not always indicative of income available for spousal or child support. It complex cases it may become necessary to hire an expert to analyze income flow. Top level executives may receive different forms of income. Examples include stock options, bonuses, car allowances, and deferred compensation plans. Even military members often have a compensation package that goes beyond their base salary.
Discovery is a good start in seeking to track down assets, hidden or otherwise. Tax returns and bank statements are good to review in terms of sources of income as well as where the income is going. A tax return can show rental income, interest on bank accounts, dividends on stock, etc. Bank statements can show any transfers of money and identify where it went to. Parties can subpoena documents directly from the custodian of the documents if the spouse will not cooperate and turn them over. If these initial avenues of discovery do not yield the desired results, a party will have to make a decision as to whether to invest more money in the chase for hidden assets. Any party that anticipates hiding or dissipating assets may become a problem during the pendency of the divorce should obtain a court injunction right away preventing the dissipation or transfer of any marital assets.