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Discovering Hidden Assets During a Divorce

By Sheryl Rentz on May 21, 2019

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Dividing up property is an important aspect of divorce, and one of the most contentious. It is not uncommon for spouses to attempt to hide assets during the process, particularly in high-net-worth cases. If you are going through a divorce and suspect your spouse may be hiding assets, Sheryl R. Rentz can help you search for them. She is a Montgomery County family law attorney with more than 25 years of experience. Call our Ardmore office at (610) 645-0100 to schedule a free consultation.

What Types of Assets Are Usually Hidden?

Divorcing spouses hide different types of assets:

  • Cash
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Stocks
  • Variable annuities
  • Cash value in insurance policies
  • Series EE savings bonds
  • Travelers’ checks
  • Bearer municipal bonds

How Do Divorcing Spouses Hide Assets?

Spouses use a wide variety of methods to conceal assets.

  • They may involve friends or family members, who may or may not be aware of their complicity. For example, personal possessions or investment certificates may be placed in a safety deposit box in the name of a friend.
  • Divorcing spouses may hide funds in plain sight by paying down credit card balances and mortgages. They may repay phony debts to friends or relatives, to make the expense appear legitimate. Assets may be transferred to a family member or friend, or a corporate entity.
  • Spouses may establish custodial accounts using a child’s social security number, or transfer assets into a 401(k), Keogh, pension, or profit-sharing plan to hide liquid assets. They may work in collusion with employers to delay raises, bonuses, or business contracts until after the divorce is final.
  • A spouse who owns a business may conceal assets through a corporate entity. This may involve paying salaries to non-existent employees and voiding the checks after the divorce, paying fees or salaries to relatives or close friends for services that were never rendered, and receiving the money back when the divorce is final.
  • A business owner who is divorcing may artificially lower the value of the business by failing to report income on tax returns and financial statements, or by delaying closing on a lucrative, long-term business contract until after the divorce.
  • Another way to conceal assets is to convert cash into expensive items, such as artwork, jewelry, or furniture, and then under-report the value of those items.

How to Locate Hidden Assets

Before searching for hidden assets, it is important to weigh the value of the assets against the cost of the search.

  • Discovery: Sheryl R. Rentz can obtain information for review and analysis through interrogatories, depositions, subpoenas, requests to produce, and motions to compel—the standard discovery process.
  • Investigation: If hidden assets are not found through discovery, the next step is an investigation tracing transfer of ownership of assets into the names of other individuals or entities.

An investigator searching for hidden assets should have:

  • Accurate personal information for the other spouse, including full legal name, any variations, misspellings, abbreviations, and known aliases, and current and recent addresses.
  • Names and addresses of close relatives, their social security numbers, and dates of birth.
  • Lifestyle information about the other spouse, such as travel destinations, hotel preferences, travel activities, friends’ names and characters, allowance or automatic funds transfers, or paychecks deposited into a separate account.

The investigator will also want to know:

  • Are credit card statements being mailed to your spouse’s work address?
  • Is cash is being used to pay for purchases?
  • Are there large amounts of cash in circulation?
  • Who are your spouse’s lawyer and accountant?
  • Is there ownership of a business? Is it a cash business?
  • Is there a Subchapter S corporation?
  • Has your spouse reported honestly on previous tax returns?

Call Us for Dedicated Representation in a Divorce

You need an experienced family law attorney to unearth hidden assets in divorce litigation. At the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., we can use our decades of experience to compel your spouse to provide information regarding marital assets to which you are entitled. For example, we can take the deposition of your spouse’s employer or payroll supervisor to find out about income and bonuses. A person being deposed must answer truthfully or risk a criminal charge of perjury.

Divorce is a process, and Montco divorce attorney Sheryl R. Rentz will walk you through it, step by step. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding something, we can assist you in discovering concealed assets. Call us at (610) 645-0100 for dedicated advocacy. Your initial consultation is free.

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Posted in: Property Division

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