Finding hidden assets in a divorce

One of the first casualties when a marriage goes wrong is trust. A loss of trust comes in many forms, such as suspicions about possible infidelity.

Trust also is financial. You may have questions about your finances. If you cannot trust your spouse, you must find answers yourself.

How to start

Securing your financial future begins, if possible, before the divorce process. In an ideal situation, you have kept a close eye on your marital assets all along.

If not, as soon as you become aware that a divorce is possible, compile an inventory of all your assets. Maintain records of all financial documents addressed to you as a couple and individuals.

It is common for marital assets to “disappear” during a divorce. The sooner you start your inventory, the better. Keep in mind that your spouse can conceal assets by:

  • Denying the existence of the asset
  • Transferring asset ownership to someone else
  • Reporting the asset as lost
  • Creating false debt
  • Using safe deposit boxes, or even safes and other places within your home

How to look

One of your top resources is past tax returns. Look for major changes in reporting from year to year. Areas to focus on include:

  • Itemized deductions, which can identify hidden properties
  • Interest and dividends, which may uncover unknown assets
  • Profits and losses from businesses, which can reveal business assets
  • Capital gains and losses, which may reveal new assets or the disappearance of assets
  • Supplemental income and loss, which cover rental properties, royalties, partnerships and S corporations

How to protect your interests

You are looking for a fair share of your investment in your marriage. As cold as it sounds, it is like a business deal. You would not let a business partner cheat, would you?

Most financial transactions leave a paper trail. Investigating all assets can help ensure your future.