Most people head into divorce hoping – or expecting – they will receive a fair settlement. Yet, your spouse may not want to part with any assets they consider theirs, even if they are marital property. They may go to great lengths to hide these. And unless you know where to look, their actions could impact your support and settlement.

Tax returns provide important information

A good place to find hidden assets is through tax returns. If you suspect your spouse has not been forthcoming about their finances, these documents can give a more complete picture of them. By reviewing tax returns, you can uncover whether your spouse:

  • Took itemized deductions on assets unknown to you
  • Owns businesses or properties that generate hidden income streams
  • Owns assets that generate interest or dividend income
  • Holds investments based on recorded capital gains or losses
  • Deferred compensation of their salary or bonus
  • Overpaid their taxes to receive a large return

When reviewing your spouse’s income, make sure you consult the past three to five years of tax returns. Doing so can help you notice any changes overtime that point to hidden assets.

Know where else to look

Tax returns are not the only place to look for hidden assets. Pay attention to any large purchases your spouse has made recently. They may have bought a car, boat or other valuable item that diminishes their net worth right now. But they may convert it to cash after your divorce finalizes. Your spouse might also have gifted assets to family and friends. And they may plan to transfer them back to their ownership after your proceedings. If your spouse owns a business, they could conceal assets by writing fake checks to employees or vendors, then voiding them. Consider, too, whether they may have offshore bank accounts or cryptocurrency holdings. If your spouse stores significant assets in either and fails to disclose them, they could appear in a more precarious position than they are.

Finding hidden assets by yourself is difficult. You may need the help of an investigator or forensic account to do so. But if your spouse’s finances do not add up, it is crucial that you work to uncover the facts. An attorney with family law experience can help you achieve a fair settlement based on any discovery you make.