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3 Sneaky Places Your Soon-To-Be Ex Might Be Hiding Assets

Since divorce can dramatically impact finances for both parties, many spouses are tempted to hide assets, sandbagging profits or property for future use. However, knowing where to look can make sure all of the proper assets are subject to distribution, making the process a lot fairer. Here are three places your soon-to-be ex might be hiding assets and how your lawyer can help.

1. The U.S. Treasury

Overpaying taxes is one of the most popular ways some people try to hide money. Hidden in the guise of an honest tax return, paying more than a fair share of federal or state income taxes will most likely be met with an overpayment check a few months down the road, which means that the U.S. government can hang onto those extra dollars while the details of your divorce are worked out.

Even if overpayment checks aren't mailed automatically after the government catches the error, some people choose to file amended tax returns after their divorce is finalized to reclaim their extra money.

Fortunately, a lawyer and a forensic accountant can quickly and easily determine whether or not your spouse paid a fair tax for the previous year and whether or not they are above board on their current contributions.

If you catch your spouse trying to overpay taxes to diminish their income and decrease their financial liability, that evidence can be used in court to punish the dishonest party. In fact, judges have an incredible amount of leeway when it comes to imposing punishments for hiding assets, which means your spouse could face anything from steep fines to jail time.    

2. With a Friend or Family Member

Another popular way some people choose to hide assets is temporarily lending money, vehicles, or expensive property to family members or friends, and then requesting it back after things are finalized.

Unfortunately, honest parties can't always track every dollar or piece of property their spouse has, especially if the dishonest party has demonstrated a lack of integrity leading up to the divorce. However, lawyers can conduct a careful lifestyle analysis to determine normal and irregular patterns of behavior during a divorce.

When taking a lifestyle analysis, lawyers look at everything from tax returns and credit card statements to bank accounts and daily schedules to determine if anything seems amiss. If issues are discovered, they will be carefully examined to determine if the dishonest party moved money around, purchased new property, or engaged in other behaviors to hide cash.

Although it might seem difficult to uncover instances when spouses lent money to another person, these transactions are usually accompanied by paper trails and glaring errors, making it easy to uncover assets that should be divided equally.

3. Additional Properties

In addition to potentially using additional properties as a way to stash extra belongings or stacks of cash, many people who are trying to hide assets are less-than-forthcoming about the value of second homes, income properties, and even land parcels. For instance, your spouse might undermine the value of the vacation home you use occasionally, so when assets are divided they appear to have less than they actually do.

However, lawyers can also work with property appraisers to accurately gauge the estimated value of properties based on current market trends and recent sales. In addition to determining the current value, appraisers can also estimate the property's appreciation potential, helping spouses to accurately determine future income.

Divorces can be messy, but with the right attorney, you can sort out anything. At the offices of Ronald K. Smith, our entire team is committed to making the divorce process simple and straightforward. Whether you need help resolving a custody dispute or you suspect your ex might be hiding assets, we can help to make things right. Give us a call today to start the ball rolling on the rest of your life.