During your California divorce, you and your ex will be required to identify and disclose certain financial information to one another. Ideally, everyone will follow the rules and be honest about their assets. However, there can be situations when a party is not being financially forthcoming. If you are going through a California divorce and believe your former spouse has secret property, you need to ask: What do you do when you think your ex is hiding divorce assets?
California Community Property and Financial Disclosures
California is a community property state meaning that when a couple is married, outside of certain limited exceptions, anything they have acquired during their marriage belongs to each person 50/50. During divorce, the parties must file full financial disclosures with the court, including detailed information about all their property, assets, income, and holdings. The purpose of these disclosures is to make certain all marital property is properly identified so that it may be equitably divided during divorce. When someone files a document of this nature, they are swearing to its accuracy before the court.
How Can I Tell if My Ex is Hiding Assets?
You may suspect that your former spouse has withheld financial information but not be completely certain. Thinking that your ex has secret property is one thing while having concrete evidence is another. Ultimately, you are going to have to be able to prove the allegation or at least have enough information to prompt a formal inquiry into the matter.
Generally, the first step in getting proof of hidden divorce assets will involve looking at your ex’s conduct. Here are some of the ways you may be able to tell if your ex is hiding assets:
- Spending Habit Changes—You may have noticed changes in your ex’s spending habits in the months preceding your divorce. If these alterations were significant, there might be a reason to believe they have a hidden account or other assets.
- Access to Financial Information—Another sign that your ex may be hiding assets is no longer being able to access financial information. For instance, if you once had online access to bank accounts or credit card statements that you are now restricted from using, it could signify secretive financial activity.
- Behavioral Changes—You may also want to consider how your spouse behaved before the divorce. For example, there could have been behavioral changes such as being unusually guarded or controlling regarding financial matters.
- Balance Changes—Another sign of suspicious financial activity is when there are unexplained balance fluctuations. If you notice unexplained withdrawals or that your ex is paying significantly less towards monthly bills, it may indicate suspicious spending behaviors.
Ways That Your Former Spouse May Be Hiding Divorce Assets
Your former spouse may be using different methods to conceal assets, such as:
- Gifting or selling property to a close friend or family member with the intention of taking the property back post-divorce.
- Overstating business debts.
- Misrepresenting marital property value.
- Not reporting or underreporting income.
- Deferring bonuses or a salary increase until after the divorce.
- Withdrawing and hiding cash.
- Making fictitious “loans” to close friends or family members with the plan to be repaid after the divorce.
- Acquiring assets in an extramarital partner’s name.
- Creating secret financial accounts for children with marital funds.
- Storing hidden assets in a safe deposit box.
- Not reporting recent luxury or large item purchases.
Your ex may be hiding financial assets using these or other secretive methods.
Consequences of Hiding Assets During Divorce
California law prohibits spouses from hiding financial assets during divorce. If your ex failed to disclose their resources fully, they could be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
If the court finds that your ex hid money or other property, it could result in you being awarded all or more of the asset. Additionally, your ex would most likely be ordered to pay for any additional expenses you incurred because of their actions.
When your ex submitted their financial disclosure, they represented to the court that the information provided was true and accurate. However, if it is later established that they lied, your former spouse could be charged with perjury and fraud. Further, if you had a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, your ex’s financial deception may also impact these instruments.
What do I do if I Think My Ex is Hiding Assets?
If you think your ex is hiding assets, the first step is to discuss your suspicions with a California divorce attorney. Before meeting with your counsel, you should gather all the information and evidence you have. For instance, if you think your ex is withdrawing and hiding funds, account statements will be helpful. If you have copies of questionable communications, you will want to share them with your lawyer as well. You and your California divorce attorney can review your suspicions and evidence and determine how you can protect your community interests.
Contact a California Divorce Attorney
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California family law attorneys who can answer your questions about hidden marital assets and the other matters at issue in your divorce. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.