David R. Hartwig, ESQ.
Attorney & Counselor At Law
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Could your spouse be hiding assets in advance of your divorce?

Your divorce started out amicably, or so you thought. But you're starting to feel concerned about your financial situation. Perhaps your spouse has started to spend more money, there are unexplained purchases or your combined income has started to drop for no apparent reason.

CNBC reports that 7.2 million people in the U.S. hide financial accounts-banks or credit cards-from their partner or spouse. The breakdown? 2.8 million women and 4.4 million men. Could your spouse be one of them?

Here are some warning signs to look for:

  • You haven't seen a bank or investment account statement in a while. Either snail mail or email stopped coming, or they're being intercepted before you see them. Maybe they're being sent to a work address, or your spouse is deliberately hiding them somewhere else.
  • Money is being deposited elsewhere, such as into a child's account, or stocks and investments transferred to a child or relative (you'll have to be vigilant about reading all of the statements you do see).
  • He or she has started to act controlling about money or elusive about where the money is, once you do investigate all of your account statements.
  • Any of your account balances have changed without explanation.

Things you won't be able to see coming/happening:

  • Spending sprees done with cash or newly acquired credit cards-however, you can be on the lookout for newly acquired high-end items such as jewelry, vehicles, collectibles
  • Cash "loaned" to friends or family
  • Cash or other securities hidden in a safety deposit box under someone else's name-a colluding relative or friend
  • She or he could be deferring salary or declining to sign contracts, so that they receive the money after the divorce and therefore it won't be subject to the settlement

Business owners have other ways of hiding assets: if you share the business, be vigilant about keeping track of all the ways money is being spent right now.

You'd be surprised how differently people can act when they're facing a divorce and a division of their shared lives. Some react by letting their anger morph into greed; others go from anger to sadness and helplessness. There's no rule for which spouse will feel what.

If you are contemplating divorce, or if you think your spouse is, it is vital to protect yourself. Be sure to make copies of all financial records and store them in a safe place. If these financial records disappear or are locked away, it could cause serious problems in your divorce.

An experienced lawyer can help you uncover what's being hidden and make sure you get your fair share. Don't wait too long. Each day you wait, more of your money could be disappearing.

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