When you are happily married, you share everything. The good times and the bad times, the plentiful and the scarce, and all the things that populate your home are all shared. That all changes when divorce comes along. What might have been "ours" is now considered marital property. A divorce settlement cannot be considered fair without a full disclosure of assets, so read on to find out more about marital property and hiding assets.
What Is Marital Property?
Not everything you own is shared, but most all of it is. When you and your spouse own the property together, it is called marital property. There are some exceptions to marital property, such as:
- Items owned before you got married
- Items that were a gift to only one party after the marriage
- Items that were inheritances after the marriage
There is a quasi-marital property category known as commingled property. A couple may have unintentionally (or intentionally) mingled property from each party. It can be difficult to commingle most items of property, like a car or a house, but bank accounts are ripe with the potential for commingling. You may have entered the marriage with your own bank account and decided to keep the account in your name only. You deposited funds into the account during the time of the marriage, but so did your spouse. The account is now commingled. If the couple cannot agree on how to divide the commingled asset, the judge must untangle the issue.
When to Suspect Hidden Assets
You should stay alert to the following red flags that your spouse might be hiding assets.
- You are unable to access your spouse's financial records. You might notice changed passwords, locked drawers and filing cabinets, safes, and more that you no longer have access to.
- You have noticed your spouse spending at levels far above your stated income.
- Your spouse has a habit of gifting you and others with expensive and seemingly impulsive items.
- Your spouse takes care of filing the taxes and you are never provided with access to the returns.
- Your spouse is a business owner or self-employed. Both of these situations place your spouse in a position to hide income and assets.
Take Action and Protect Your Settlement
If you suspect your spouse of being less than honest when making the required financial disclosures, speak to your family law attorney immediately. You may need to subpoena the financial records and hire a forensic accountant to take a deeper look into your spouse's financial dealings.