Uncovering the truth: Where to search for hidden assets during divorce

Some spouses may hide assets in order to get more than their fair share during a divorce, but there are steps people can take to uncover such assets.

During the course of their marriages, people in Philadelphia, and throughout Pennsylvania, often acquire property and assets. In the event of a divorce, they must generally divide their marital property. Under state law, divorcing couples' shared assets are split in accordance with the principle of equitable distribution. Sometimes, however, one spouse or the other may have his or her own ideas about what is fair and equitable. As, such, people may take steps to hide assets from their soon-to-be former spouses. There are things that people can do to uncover such assets, and help ensure they receive all they are entitled to.

Check tax documents

Tax documents can be a valuable tool for locating hidden assets. People may underreport income so that it cannot be used during a financial analysis for their divorces. If these types of documents show discrepancies between their earnings and their reported income, it may indicate that funds have been concealed. Additionally, people may overpay their taxes in order to get a refund. If they anticipate their divorce being finalized before their refund comes in, they may be able to keep those funds, rather than splitting them with their spouses.

Review financial statements

Reviewing financial documents, including bank statements, cancelled checks and pay stubs may also help people to uncover concealed assets. It is suggested that people look for unusual or unexplainable withdrawals, or for deposits from unknown or questionable accounts. This may show undisclosed offshore or private banking accounts that might be used to hide marital property.

Take note of large purchases

Sometimes, people may purchase items prior to, or during their divorce process, that may be easily undervalued or overlooked. This could include antiques, collectible stamps or coins, or art, among other types of assets. They may hold on to these assets until after their divorce is finalized, and then sell them in order to recoup the funds. Likewise, people may take, move or sell valuable assets that they share with their spouses thinking that they will not be missed.

Perform a public records search

When looking for hidden assets, the Huffington Post recommends that people perform a public records search under their spouse's name. This may show vacation homes or other real property holding that might have been purchased with marital assets without their knowledge. If this is the case, both partners may be entitled to a portion of the properties' value as a part of their property division.

Check the legitimacy of debts and expenses

In an effort to hide funds from their spouses, some people may work with friends or family members. They might make up phony debts or expenses, and then make payments on them. These fake payments are made with the understanding that their friends or family members will give them their money back once their divorces are finalized. Therefore, it is advisable for people to question any debts or expenses that seem questionable or unusual.

Working with an attorney

When assets are hidden or are not disclosed, people in Pennsylvania may not receive what is fair and equitable during the property division process. In order to ensure their rights are upheld, those considering a divorce may benefit from seeking legal counsel. An attorney may explain their rights and guide them through the divorce process, as well as help them to discover if their spouses have hidden any marital assets.