Is My Spouse Hiding Assets?
When going through a divorce, it can be difficult to get a correct accounting of the martial estate. Additionally, spouses often hide assets, making the process more difficult. You have the right to a full and fair accounting of your marital estate, and a dedicated divorce attorney can help you through this process.
Property Division Must Be Equitable
Georgia is an equitable distribution state, meaning all property that is classified as marital must be divided in the most equitable way possible. “Equitable” means ‘fair’ or ‘appropriate,’ not necessarily ‘equal’. Martial property is the real and personal property and assets acquired by the parties during the marriage. Marital property does NOT include property that one party brought into the marriage or property that one acquired during the marriage by gift, inheritance, bequest, or devise, unless the appreciation in the value of said property was caused by efforts of the parties during the marriage.
There are several aspects of divorce that revolve around income and assets, such as equitable distribution, child support, and alimony. As a result, in order for a divorce to be settled or adjudicate in a fair and equitable manner, it is imperative that both parties completely disclose their financial information. That said, a court cannot even begin to divide marital assets if it cannot obtain a full picture of what is on the proverbial table. Hiding assets or engaging in other potentially problematic behavior usually happens when a spouse does not want to share with their soon-to-be ex, and if they get away with it, it means you may miss out on your rightful share of those assets. This can affect both your financial future as well as your children’s ability to receive support, which is their right under Georgia law.
What To Look For
While every case is different, there are certain red flags that you may want to keep a lookout for, as they can pinpoint underhanded behavior by your soon-to-be ex-spouse. For example, if your spouse is making ‘gifts’ to loved ones or friends that cannot be adequately explained from your financial records, this may be a cover to hide assets until the divorce is concluded. Another common sign that your spouse may be concealing assets is by undervaluing tangible assets like artwork or antiques. If you and your spouse both have the item appraised, and the values are wildly divergent, this may be a reason for concern.
Something to keep in mind is that Georgia law requires that each divorcing spouse complete and submit a financial affidavit as part of the divorce process. If your spouse does not disclose all their relevant financial information on that affidavit, it actually constitutes perjury. If they do refuse to disclose their financial information, you may then be able to obtain it via subpoena or by hiring a forensic accountant. You do have options for getting the whole truth.
Additional red flags to keep a look out for:
- Your spouse maintains complete control of bank account information and online passwords.
- Your spouse is secretive about financial affairs.
- Your spouse has a private P.O. box, where he or she receives account statements and bills.
- Your spouse has deleted one or more personal financial programs like Mint, Money, Quicken or Quickbooks.
- He or she makes sudden unsubstantiated claims that his or her business is failing.
- Your spouse suffers an apparent income decrease, but continues to live the same lifestyle.
- Your spouse makes several trips to countries with relaxed banking laws.
- He or she starts accumulating large amounts of debt.
- Your spouse opens multiple business or personal bank accounts for no obvious reason.
Call An Atlanta Family Lawyer
Divorce is never an easy process, and if your spouse has decided to complicate matters by hiding assets or obfuscating their financial information, you need an experienced Atlanta divorce attorney to help ensure you are awarded an equitable division of the true marital estate. Buckhead Family Law has handled these types of cases for years, and is ready and willing to try and assist you with yours. Contact our Atlanta offices today to speak to an attorney.