When you got married, you more than likely never anticipated a time when it would end. However, now that you face this situation, you want to be sure that you receive your fair share of the marital estate.
It may work to your advantage that California is a community property state. You and your spouse own all assets equally unless proved otherwise to the court. However, what happens when you can’t find all of the marital assets because your spouse is attempting to hide them from you and the court?
If you weren’t actively involved in the family finances during the marriage, now is the time to correct that problem. Start looking for a paper trail. This could include actual paperwork your spouse stashed around the house. It’s your house, too, at least for now, so you have the right to search it.
Physical paper isn’t the only way to hide assets, however. As technology has improved, many people keep accounts that exist only online. A check of the family computer could reveal additional accounts or information on property holdings you knew nothing about during the marriage.
Your spouse goes on a spending spree
Extravagant purchases could signal an attempt to hide assets as well. Your spouse may spend marital funds on items that you would never agree to purchase during the marriage. Document these purchases because if they come close enough to the divorce, the court may require your spouse to include them in the marital estate.
Keep an eye on joint accounts
You may need to check account balances daily. If you see unusual activity, such as large withdrawals, that could indicate that your spouse is attempting to hide assets from you. If you see any of the following activity, you may have a problem:
- Repayment of a non-existent debt
- Money transfers to friends or relatives
- A new account in a child’s name
- Loans to friends or relatives
The friend or relative may hold the money on behalf of your spouse until the court finalizes the divorce.
Unusual activity at work
Every year during your marriage, your spouse got an annual bonus — except this year. Your spouse either decided to hide that money or asked his or her employer to hold off on disbursing it until after the divorce. The same may be true of raises or promotions.
Business owners may have unusually high expenses or delay billing customers or clients until after the divorce. This deprives you of potential monies that you enjoyed during the marriage. Business funds could also end up with a friend or relative for safekeeping until after the proceedings end.
You probably need some help
Even if your efforts to root out hidden assets are somewhat successful, you may have only touched the tip of the iceberg. You may require help to determine whether anything else is missing. Family law attorneys are used to conducting investigations to look for hidden assets. They more than likely have resources you don’t and can help you find missing or unknown assets to ensure that you receive your share of the marital estate.