Finding Hidden Assets in Divorce: Taking a Closer Look
It isn’t unusual for people to go through a divorce in Atlanta and wonder about finding hidden assets throughout the process. At Buckhead Family Law, we know there are many ways that people try to disguise their hidden assets from their soon-to-be ex-spouse, and it becomes difficult to determine whether you have any claim to those items at all. This can occur in any divorce, but often becomes an issue in high net worth divorces and divorces where a small or closely held business is at issue.
If you believe your spouse may be attempting to hide assets, what can you do? There are a few places you may need to take a closer look at in order to ensure you’re getting everything you should in your settlement.
First Step: Know What Hidden Assets in Divorce Are
There are many things that can qualify as “hidden assets” in a divorce – and you need to know what they are before you attempt to find them. An inexhaustive list of hidden assets include:
- Unreported income and accounts on your taxes or financial statements
- Retained earnings in a business
- Delayed bonuses, unexercised stock options or other deferred compensation
- Tax credits, refunds and carryovers
- Cash kept hidden within the house or in traveler’s checks
- Fake loans or improper gifts to friends or family
- Phony debt repayment to friends or family
- Unreported cryptocurrency
- Antiques, including furniture and guns that may be undervalued or not disclosed
- Artwork that you have hanging in your home but may also be undervalued
- Prepaid expenses with marital funds
- Series EE Savings Bonds
Of course some people get a little bit more creative than this (and they may not even know they are hiding anything with the above.) However, there are some cases where one party reports finding hidden assets in divorce that were knowingly hidden.
This can include colluding with an employer to delay bonuses or raises until after the divorce is finalized and the income would be considered separate property. Another option is someone paying a phony debt to a friend or other third party that they will then get back once the divorce is completed.
You may also want to look into retirement accounts that you may not have known about, as it is increasingly popular to use apps instead of brick and mortar financial institutions that help save for retirement.
Additionally, if cheating or infidelity caused the divorce in Georgia, you may also want to look into expenses paid to the boyfriend or girlfriend, such as gifts, dates, travel, or other expenses that were paid unknowingly using joint funds.
Finding Hidden Assets in Divorce: Business Owners
Small businesses and closely held businesses often present complex opportunities for one party to hide assets. And for families with small businesses, this is often one of the biggest marital assets at issue.
Sometimes business owners going through a divorce will also make a delay in signing big contracts until the divorce is over. Earnings may not be reported or distributed, revenue may be deferred or the receipt of commissions may be delayed. A forensic review of the business may reveal that the business has made payments for supplies or employees that don’t exist. Even though some of these may be considered a strategic business decision, it is important to look to the financial statements and tax returns of the business and the ordinary course of the business operations, often with the help of a forensic CPA.
How Can I Find Hidden Assets in My Divorce?
Unfortunately, it can be pretty difficult and taxing to uncover hidden assets or even get evidence to prove that they are real. However, working with a lawyer can help you obtain the evidence needed and present it to the court. You and your attorney may also want to look into adding a forensic CPA to the divorce team or engaging a private investigator or an asset specialist who can assist you in going through each of these steps and combing through your finances in search of any hidden assets.
To protect yourself before you file for divorce, a lawyer can help you to start investigating your finances and documenting everything, so you can avoid potential problems during the process.
Contact Buckhead Law Today for More Information
If you are getting a divorce in Georgia and you suspect that there are hidden assets to be found, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Buckhead Family Law. Our experienced divorce legal team is here to present you with your most beneficial legal options and help you to move on with your life quickly while still getting what you justly deserve.
We are here to assist you as you begin the next chapter of your life while ensuring that all of the loose ends are tied up. Schedule a consultation today by calling at 470-600-6699.