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How to tell if your spouse is hiding assets from you

As if dividing up property in a high-asset divorce is not difficult enough, it can be even worse when you suspect your spouse is hiding assets from you. You do not want your ex to cheat you out of what you deserve, yet you may fear making any accusations until you are absolutely certain or have physical evidence. What should you do? How can you tell if there are hidden assets?

Know the signs

There are common ways spouses try to hide marital property during a divorce that you should be aware of. These include the following:

  • Using a P.O. box or redirecting mail to another address
  • Withholding login information to financial accounts
  • Asking you to sign unfamiliar financial documents
  • Making expensive purchases, particularly on valuables, or spending money on or transferring funds to family and friends
  • Lying about income or the worth of an owned business
  • Overpaying debts to receive refunds later

There are even more ways to hide assets, so it is important to become familiar with all of them and know which are relevant to your financial situation.

Search for evidence

Once you have valid suspicions, it is time to confirm them. Search for evidence, especially electronic proof. It is unlikely that you will find a paper trail in this digital age, though you should still review whatever paperwork is available. Also, it is harder to delete electronic evidence than hard copies, so you have a higher chance of finding something digital. No matter the format, check these items:

  • Tax returns
  • Money market funds and savings accounts
  • Receipts, statements and reports
  • Cancelled checks
  • Business operations
  • Public records

If you do find unusual or illegal activity, document it in detail. The more solid proof you have, the likelier it will hold up in court and the harder it will be for your spouse to dispute it. This increases your chances of receiving an equitable distribution of marital property.

Use professional assistance

You do not need to play the role of private investigator alone. You have enough to worry about with your divorce. An experienced Massachusetts family law attorney can help you so you can focus on other aspects of your divorce. You may also want to consider using a qualified divorce financial planner. Both these professionals will have the knowledge and resources necessary to uncover any hidden assets. Such thorough research can be costly, but it will be worth it if there is a significant discovery. Even if not, exposing any lies will hurt your spouse's case and wallet.

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