Spouses Can Hide a Variety of Assets—from Cash, to Retirement Accounts—What Is Important Is that You Work With an Experienced Divorce Attorney to Comprehensively Discover Everything
One of the first steps involved in a divorce is to complete and disclose a thorough, honest inventory of all the assets owned between and amongst the two spouses, even if some of that property will eventually be categorized as one person’s “separate” property.
This is necessary because even if property acquired during the marriage is “marital” property (or community property in Texas), everything must be accounted for. Typically, each spouse will provide copies of all financial records to kick start the process. Another option is to submit requests for records to banks, mortgage companies, retirement plan administrators, and others.
Assets that spouses can hide during divorce can include both intangible and tangible assets; intangible assets may include intellectual property or franchises, while tangible assets include money and anything that can be sold for cash such as art, cars, the family home, jewelry, etc.
If there is concern that one spouse is hiding assets, the other spouse and their attorney can use what’s known as the “discovery process” to discover what, exactly, those assets are. However, this must be done with an experienced family law attorney, as trying to discover hidden assets can be extremely challenging. Specifically, your attorney can use the following methods to obtain information: requests for your spouse to produce specific documents (financial statements, tax returns, etc.), submitting interrogatories, requests to inspect property, and oral depositions, where your spouse is asked questions and must tell the truth before a court order.
Below is a list of documents you want to make sure that you examine during the divorce:
- “Carry forwards”: credits, deductions, losses, etc. that an IRS or state income tax rule allows taxpayers to save (for example, a charitable donation that exceeded 50 percent of your income and can thus be applied to another tax year);
- Form 1040: This includes reporting from all wages, including annuities, business income, capital gains, dividends, distributions, social security, etc.; as well as dividend and interest income, such as bonds, CDs, loans, money market accounts, savings accounts, etc.; and retirement plan distributions received from IRA accounts or deferred-compensation plans;
- Refunds: Make sure that you review old returns in order to find previous tax refunds and any overpaid taxes in an effort to obtain reimbursements after the divorce;
- Schedule A documents: This includes itemized deductions, including any local and state taxes paid on assets hidden in another state and miscellaneous deductions (for estate planning advice, for example);
- Schedule B documents: Including a list of any foreign accounts and/or trusts;
- Schedule C documents: To review any profit or loss from any businesses; and
- Schedule E documents: To discover any income-generating assets, such as property, royalties, estates, trusts, etc.