By: Mary Ellen Flynn, Attorney
Sometimes, dishonest spouses going through a separation and divorce, especially when there are allegations of cheating or those with significant wealth, take steps to hide assets.
A critical part of going through a divorce is the exchange of documents, also referred to as discovery. Each spouse discloses all of their assets regardless of how the asset is titled. People misunderstand the law and think that if an account is individually titled, then that account is precluded from disclosure and not considered in the division of marital assets. However, Maryland law considers all assets earned and acquired during the marriage as marital, regardless of how the asset is titled. Maryland also requires the disclosure of non-marital assets, those acquired before marriage or by inheritance or gift, as well.
There are several ways a dishonest spouse can hide assets. They may “gift” money to someone else who holds the money until after the divorce. If your spouse owns a business, they can hide income and assets in the business. Suppose your spouse has committed adultery or already met someone else. They typically use marital funds to support that new relationship leaving fewer marital assets to divide.
It is important to follow these five steps to find any hidden assets:
- Serve your spouse with discovery requests to produce documents that include requests for copies of account statements for all financial, retirement, investment, business, and any other property that your spouse has any interest in. If your spouse refuses to turn over their financial records, serve subpoenas to get them.
- Spend ample time following all money trails. If your spouse has made a cash withdrawal, find out where the money was spent and follow up on that transaction with the vendor. While it is a cost, hiring a forensic accountant to review all accounts and transactions can be of great use to ensure you know about all assets.
- If your spouse has any interest in any business, make sure that you get all of the business financials and hire an expert to do a proper business audit and valuation to determine your spouse’s share in the business so that their interest can be accounted for in the division of marital assets.
- Carefully review your spouse’s financial statements. Often a spouse will exaggerate their debts or acquire new obligations to dimmish their assets.
- Hire a private investigator to dig into your spouse’s habits to get you the information you need to find assets.
A judge will not look upon vindictive and immoral behavior of hiding assets favorably.
Often, a judge will make a financial award that includes money dissipated and/or hidden. Finding hidden assets can be a complicated process, but ensuring that you get the money you are entitled to is imperative. The divorce attorneys at Andalman and Flynn are highly trained and experienced in discovering and finding hidden assets. Call us at 301-563-6685 to schedule your consultation.
Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The Firm practices family law, estate planning, and probate throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, and represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country. The Firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The Firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and their attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at andalmanflynn.com or call 301.563.6685.