Getting divorced can involve many issues. Property division can be a contentious issue, especially since California is a community property state. To avoid dividing assets in half, a spouse may try to hide assets.

The law requires spouses to disclose all assets in a divorce action. But unfortunately, that does not prevent some spouses from being dishonest during the financial disclosure phase of a divorce case. 

Many people assume that hiding assets only occurs in high net worth divorces. However, hiding assets can occur regardless of the couple’s net worth. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets to control the property division settlement in your divorce, you can take steps to investigate your spouse. 

What Assets Are Commonly Hidden by Spouses During a Divorce?

A spouse could attempt to hide any asset. The reasons for hiding assets might involve greed, revenge, or emotional attachment. Whatever the reason, it is unlawful.

Examples of assets that are easy for a spouse to hide include:

  • Cash
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Bonds
  • Annuities
  • Municipal bonds
  • Insurance policies, including their cash values
  • Stocks
  • Out-of-state assets
  • Jewelry
  • Art and collectibles
  • Boats 
  • Foreign assets

If you don’t see an asset for a long time, you could forget that your spouse owns it. Unfortunately, that makes it easier for your spouse to hide assets. For that reason, it is essential to work with an experienced San Diego property division lawyer who can help you obtain a fair settlement. 

How Do Spouses Hide Assets in a Divorce?

Spouses can find creative ways to hide assets in a divorce. How an asset is hidden can depend on the type of asset. Some are easier to hide than others.

A spouse might work with a third party to hide assets in some cases. In other cases, the spouse may take advantage of legal means of concealing assets. Examples of ways your spouse could be hiding assets from you during your divorce include:

Paying Fake Debts

A spouse may “create” a debt owed to another party. The spouse “pays” the debt through a legitimate form of payment. 

However, the alleged “creditor” is a family member or friend who agrees to hold the cash until after you finalize the divorce. At that time, the family member or friend will return the money to your ex-spouse.

Transferring Personal Property 

If your spouse has personal property that you might have forgotten about, it’s easy to give that property to someone to hold during the divorce. If you demand a household inventory from an independent appraiser, the property is no longer in the home and therefore won’t be included in the property division. 

Using a Child’s Account

Transferring money to a child’s account is another easy way to conceal assets. If you aren’t paying attention, your spouse could easily deposit funds into your children’s accounts before the financial disclosure. Then, after your divorce, your ex-spouse will withdraw the funds. 

Using a Business to Hide Assets

Owning a business gives your spouse a way to hide assets during a divorce. For example, your spouse could place personal funds into the business. Your spouse could also delay receiving income that would be counted as an asset.

Converting Cash to Property

A spouse may withdraw cash from accounts for some time before you officially decide to separate. Your spouse may use that cash to purchase an asset that can easily be hidden or undervalued during the divorce. You may assume that your spouse is using the cash for legitimate expenses, but they are actually planning to conceal assets from you.

How Can You Locate Hidden Assets During a Divorce Action?

Working with an experienced San Diego divorce attorney can make it easier to locate hidden assets. In addition, divorce lawyers with experience in disputed property settlement cases have developed resources and relationships with experts. 

Steps your lawyer may take to reveal hidden assets include:

Use Discovery Tools

Both parties can request information and evidence from the other party during a divorce. 

Your lawyer may send your spouse:

  • Requests to Produce
  • Interrogatories
  • Requests to Admit

Your spouse must respond to each request under oath. The information, records, and documents received during discovery can help reveal hidden assets. 

If your spouse refuses to turn over information, your attorney may file a Motion to Compel requesting a court order compelling your spouse to provide information and documents. 

Review Financial Accounts

Your lawyer will carefully review the financial records you and your spouse provide as part of the financial disclosures. The records could provide leads to hidden assets.

Hire a Forensic Accountant

A forensic accountant can trace assets and finances funneled through various accounts and entities. These financial experts can be essential in discovering hidden assets in businesses or foreign entities and accounts.

Hire a Private Investigator

In some cases, working with a private investigator can uncover hidden assets. For example, an investigator may conduct extensive interviews and chase leads to reveal how your spouse concealed assets and income.

Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in San Diego, CA if You Think Your Spouse is Hiding Assets During a Divorce 

Property division in a divorce can significantly impact your future. Concealing income could reduce spousal support and child support. In addition, hidden assets decrease your resources for your support and retirement. 

An experienced San Diego family law attorney will fight to ensure that you receive your fair share of property and assets during your divorce. Contact our experienced San Diego divorce lawyers at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC today for legal assistance. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866-3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108