Searching for Hidden Assets

There are a number of ways in which a spouse may hide assets, undervaluing or disguising them.  Some of these include:

-Antiques, artwork, hobby equipment, gun collections, and tool-sets.

-Income that is unreported on tax returns and financial statements.

-Cash in the form of travelers' checks, sometimes these can be found by traces bank accounts and withdrawals

-A custodial account set up in the name of a child, using the child's Social Security number.

-Investment in certificate "bearer" municipal bonds or Series EE Savings Bonds. These re not registered with the IRS and are being phased out by the government .

-Collusion with an employer to delay bonuses, stock options, or raises until a time when the asset or income would be considered separate property.

-Debt repayment to a friend for a phony debt.

-Paying for gifts, travel, rent, or tuition for college or classes for a girlfriend or boyfriend.

-Retirement accounts

Furthermore, business owners have additional ways of hiding assets, such as:

-Skimming cash from the business.

-Salary payments to a nonexistent employee, with checks that will be voided after the divorce.

-Money paid from the business to someone close, for example, a father, mother, girlfriend, or boyfriend, for services that were never actually rendered (the money is given back to your spouse after the divorce is final).

-A delay in signing long-term business contracts until after the divorce. Although this may seem like smart planning, if the intent is to lower the value of the business it is considered hiding assets.

It may be hard to find these items or get the proof needed to prove that they exist. Litigation may provide helpful formal discovery procedures, such as depositions.  Additional necessary means include the hiring of a forensic accountant or a private investigator; an attorney can refer you to these specialists.