Frequently in a divorce situation, one of the parties has far more knowledge about the finances than the other party. Many times, one of the parties has not been involved in the family finances and doesn’t know the extent or nature of the parties’ assets. This spouse’s name may not be on the accounts at financial institutions and thus, that spouse may not have access to the financial information. If a spouse owns a business, the other spouse may have no knowledge about the business.
It is often said that while two people always get married at the same time, they rarely get divorced at the same time, meaning that one person might have been thinking about it for months or even years, while the other spouse didn’t understand the depth of the problems. A spouse intent on hiding some of the assets thus has a significant head start.
It is the attorney’s job to determine the nature, extent and value of all the assets. This process generally requires extensive discovery, whether done informally between counsel or through a formal process. This process can take months and will require the review of possibly hundreds of documents.
There are many ways to hide assets. These could include transferring assets to third parties, opening accounts and having the statements sent to a different address, opening accounts with a third party, overpaying estimated taxes, creating Paypal accounts and depositing large amounts of money there, and buying bitcoins. It could include accumulating cash and not depositing it into any accounts, purchasing gold or other such assets, moving money offshore or creating trusts or LLCs and titling property in the name of those entities.
Having an attorney experienced in dealing with cases in which concealment of assets or income could be an issue is critical to a successful outcome for the client.