When you are looking to get a divorce or are in the middle of one, it’s important to identify all of the assets you and your spouse have. This is so the court, or you and your spouse, can divide the assets in an equal way. Unfortunately, one or both spouses hiding assets in a divorce proceeding isn’t uncommon. It’s difficult to discover intentionally hidden assets and even harder to prove that a spouse has them in some cases. However, if you think your spouse may be hiding assets in your New Mexico divorce, there are ways you can protect yourself and find those assets so you get your fair share when it comes time to finalize the divorce.
Hidden assets in divorce
New Mexico is a community property state, so debts and marital assets are divided equally in a divorce. This is where hidden assets can come in. During a high-conflict case, one spouse–often the major earner–will try to hide some of his or her assets so they are not shared with the other spouse. Sometimes, the other spouse may think their soon-to-be former partner is hiding assets; however, this has to be proven. Proof comes in many forms, depending on the asset being hidden. Bank statements, for example, can prove the existence of undisclosed cash. A deed serves as proof of property owned. Naturally, it’s not always easy to get these documents, but it does help if you know what red flags to look for when it comes to hidden assets:
• Mailing address change for financial statements: If bank account statements or other financial documents are now being sent to your spouse’s home instead of yours, it could be a red flag. Contact the companies providing the statements to request a copy also be mailed to your address. Take the time to review any financial statements you receive so you are aware of any changes as soon as possible.
• Big purchases: Keep an eye out for sudden purchases of things that could be overlooked or undervalued in the divorce, such as furniture, collectibles or fine art.
• Overpayment of creditors: A spouse who is hiding assets might overpay creditors or the IRS to get a refund once the divorce is settled.
• Sudden decrease in commission, salary or salary bonuses: To make his or her income seem lower, a spouse might defer commissions, salary or a bonus until the divorce is done. Depending on the situation, you may be able to ask your spouse’s employer if this is happening.
• Sudden debt hike: Sometimes, a spouse will create fake debt to seem less financially solvent. If you think a debt statement has been tampered with, contact the creditor.
Know what is at stake
It’s incredibly important that you have an accurate picture of your martial assets so you are treated fairly in the divorce. If you have concerns, you can hire a forensic accountant to review bank and investment statements, tax returns and debts. This can be a costly process, so you should have some evidence that assets are being hidden before you enlist the help of this type of investigator.
Even if you’re not starting a divorce yet, you should have complete knowledge of all the martial assets and debts to protect yourself for the future. If you feel your partner is hiding property or income, try to obtain whatever records you can and speak to an experienced divorce attorney immediately. An attorney will help you discover hidden assets and ensure you get your fair share in the divorce.