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Buried Treasure: How to Find and Handle Hidden Assets

In a perfect world, both parties would be completely honest and upfront about financial matters during a divorce proceeding. But sometimes one party will think it’s a good idea to lie about and hide assets from their soon-to-be-ex. This is never a good idea, especially if you are the spouse being left in the dark! Fortunately, there are ways to find and handle hidden assets, so you get the settlement you deserve.

Gather Information Early

Before you file your divorce petition, begin gathering financial documents like:

  • Financial statements for all accounts, including checking, savings, retirement, and so on;
  • Business records, if your spouse owns a business;
  • Loan and credit applications prepared by your spouse; and
  • Credit card statements.

Review Documents Carefully

Look for places where information on one statement is not in sync with a different document. Here are some things to look for:

  • Do income and expenses line up? Is your spouse suddenly spending less or more?
  • Is your spouse paying “fake” employees to hide business income? Is the company making less money for no discernible reasons?
  • Has your spouse been giving money, checks, or valuable items to family and friends?
  • Does it appear that expected bonuses or raises are being deferred until after the divorce is final?
  • Has your spouse been buying expensive items?
  • Do loan and credit applications list more income than expected? How does the information on the application compare to the financial information your spouse has offered? Are there any discrepancies?

Consequences for a Spouse Who Hides Assets

You may find that your spouse has hidden assets or lied about their assets on court documents. It’s best to turn this information over to your attorney, who will likely bring it to the court’s attention.

Penalties for hiding assets or lying on court forms include:

  • Being found in contempt of court,
  • Being charged with perjury if court documents or testimony was falsified, or
  • Ordered to pay the innocent spouse’s attorney’s fees.

In addition, the judge may decide to award more property to the wronged party.

You Don’t Have to Do This Alone 

Trying to locate hidden assets takes time and energy. We’re here to help. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.