Divorcing spouses are often not on the best of terms. And a common contributing factor to their break-up is money. This holds true for couples from all walks of life. But when you are part of a high net worth couple, financial issues are far more complex than with the typical divorcing couple. In high asset divorces, division of property, spousal support, and child support are often great sources of contention. When you have amassed substantial wealth, it's natural to want to hold on to it. Unfortunately, in some cases, this may drive one spouse to act unethically, or even illegally.
A potential danger in high net worth divorces is the risk of dealing with hidden assets. You may not believe that your spouse would be capable of this behavior, and perhaps you're right. However, it's best to be prepared and aware, because this situation is not rare in high asset divorces.
Signs of Hidden Assets
To determine whether there is something to worry about, take stock of your finances, and your involvement in this area of your lives. Has your spouse been open and forthcoming about your income and assets? Do you have access to your financial accounts? Do you normally see financial statements, or review income and business interests? If your spouse keeps you in the dark about your financial affairs, this may well be a warning sign.
If you do have access to your financial accounts, review your joint account bank statements to identify any unexplained withdrawals. This could signify that your spouse has been siphoning off joint funds. Look for cash transaction on your spouse's debit cards. If there is a business, take note of any new employees, business associates, family members, and friends that have recently joined the company. This may indicate that income or assets are being transferred to other parties to hide them from you.
There are numerous other signs that can signal hidden assets, such as the following:
- A new life insurance policy
- Higher payments to the IRS than usual
- Delaying business payment receipts
- Exaggerated business expenses
- Purchases of jewelry, antiques, or art
Discovery of these signs warrants further investigation before you settle your divorce.
Conducting an Investigation
The skills and knowledge of an attorney with experience handling high asset divorces can be extremely helpful when you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets. You lawyer can help you identify areas of concern and retain the proper professionals to uncover hidden assets. She can bring in shrewd financial pros, such as business and real estate valuation specialists and forensic accountants, to investigate your finances and uncover discrepancies. Your attorney helps you gather the necessary documentation to negotiate a fair and equitable divorce settlement that protects your interests.