Divorce can be a difficult process, and you might feel overwhelmed by everything on your plate. If you have children, you have to figure out your child custody and support situation. You might need alimony, or a judge could order you to pay alimony to your ex. In the midst of all of this, you might notice a few red flags popping up during property division.
Hiding assets during divorce is not as uncommon as you might think it is. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you suspect that your ex might be hiding marital property.
Hiding assets might sound like a sophisticated and complicated process, but this is rarely the case. If your ex is trying to keep certain marital assets out of property division, he or she is probably using one of the most common methods. These are as follows:
- Temporarily transferring the property to someone else
- Pretending he or she lost the asset
- Denying it ever existed in the first place
- Fabricating fake debt
While these methods might not be particularly sophisticated, they can be hard to uncover. However, this does not mean that it is impossible. With the right help, you can potentially uncover the paper trails leading to the missing assets.
Know where to look for red flags
So you know that some assets are missing and that you need to find the paper trail, but where should you start? Tax documents are usually a smart place to search for red flags. For example, itemized deductions on taxes — Schedule A — can uncover undisclosed sources of income and assets. For instance, unexplained property tax deductions could be an indication of hidden properties.
Schedule C on tax documents deal with business profits and losses. If your spouse hid assets by having a related business entity “purchase” an asset, you can possibly spot it here. Other sections of tax documents can also reveal important information, but remember that looking in tax information is usually just the start of the process. You will probably have to uncover further documentation that demonstrates the extent of your ex’s behavior.
Create an inventory of assets
You and your spouse will have to figure out which property is marital and which is separate before moving forward with property division, so why not get a head start and protect yourself from losing out on important assets? As soon as your spouse asks for a divorce or before broaching the topic yourself, create an inventory of marital assets that is as thorough as possible. If you later suspect your ex of hiding assets, you can consult your inventory.
Arizona is a community property state, so the court assumes you own all marital assets jointly during property division. If your ex hides some of those assets, you will not end up with your rightful share. Family law can be complicated though, and tracking down a paper trail might be harder than you think. Working with an experienced attorney can be helpful to uncover any hidden assets.