Finding Hidden Income & Assets
Jan. 3, 2023
There are several tasks you have to tackle when going through a divorce, and these can be made easier or harder depending on how well you communicate with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Unfortunately, one thing that can make this process much more difficult is if you believe your spouse is hiding assets from you in an attempt to take more for themselves.
Assets are supposed to be shared equitably between the two partners, but a recent study published by the Review of Economics in the Household found that non-income earning spouses get a lower percentage of joint assets on average than their partner. If you’re concerned about your spouse’s hidden income, this could mean you’ll walk away with less than you deserve.
However, investigating this is a task you shouldn’t take on by yourself. Instead, you should always work with a family law attorney with experience in finding hidden assets during a divorce. For help, call us at the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, serving those in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Farragut, Tennessee, and the surrounding counties including Anderson, Blount, Union, Maryville, Oak Ridge, and Clinton.
Division of Assets in Tennessee
Division of assets in Tennessee is done by an equitable division model, which means that a married couple’s wealth is not simply split 50/50. Rather, assets are divided in a way that’s fair to both partners, even if that doesn’t mean it’s exactly equal.
Central to this mandate, though, is that both spouses disclose all of their assets and wealth so that a judge can adequately assess who should get what. It’s illegal for one spouse to hide assets during this process, but it happens more often than one would think.
While this may be frustrating to contend with, it’s incredibly important that you follow the correct legal channels to uncover these assets. Thankfully, working with a skilled lawyer can make this time-consuming process a little bit easier and help you know if you’re complying with the law.
Commonly Hidden Assets or Income
There are dozens of ways your spouse may attempt to hide assets from you. Maybe they’re literally moving money from one account to another, undervaluing an asset, or simply failing to disclose certain information to you. Having a better understanding of what and where they could be hiding income from you can help us get started on our investigation.
People may try to hide assets by overlooking and undervaluing artwork, antiques, collections, or tools. They may also exchange money into travelers checks which are harder to track, underreporting income on taxes, or hide income through a business dealing or partnership they have. Other ways of hiding income include opening custodial accounts under a child’s name without one spouse knowing, contributing to hidden retirement accounts, or purchasing big ticket items for a new partner such as cars, college tuition, travel, or rent. In all these cases, you have every right to know about any missing joint funds, but it’s essential you do so legally and with the help of an attorney.
Uncovering the Truth
The first step in this process is communicating everything with your attorney right off the bat. An experienced attorney will know what questions to ask to elicit certain information, but you will also have to help them by relaying every possibility you can think of for how money could be hidden. You should also give them access to all your financial documents so they can look for incongruities that might indicate hidden funds.
When you do start looking for hidden income, you have to make sure you’re only looking in areas you have legal access to. You can start by simply asking your spouse about any undisclosed assets, but this likely won’t get you far. Usually, you will need to use the divorce discovery process to bring these things to light, which must be done in a specific way:
First, your attorney can demand certain documents from your spouse such as account statements, loan applications, and tax returns. Comparing these together can often expose inconsistencies. They can also demand information through a request for admission which is basically a written inquiry that your spouse will be legally bound to answer honestly.
Second, they can request that certain accounts or items be inspected to determine their true value. Lastly, your spouse can also be compelled to give testimony under oath. And, if they are found to be hiding assets, a judge can issue them a fine.
Take the Steps to Bring the Truth to Light
Regrettably, many divorces can be extremely hard to get through because one or both spouses aren’t being honest with one another. However, you still need to fight for what you deserve and at the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, we can help. If you’re in the Knoxville, Tennessee, or Farragut, Tennessee area, call us today to get started.