Unreported Marital Assets and How to Find ThemLong ago, believe it or not, a housewife was given an allowance to purchase household goods and groceries. Let’s say the monthly allotment was $200.00 and the household goods and grocery shopping combined came to $185.00. The extra $15.00 was put into a secret spot to be used later for whatever reason. Years go by and the “secret savings” amounted to over a couple thousand dollars. Only she knew about the money. It was hers to be used as she pleased, maybe a new dress, the beginning of a college fund for the kids or as a luxury treat.

Fast forward decades later. This time, it’s the husband who has the “secret savings” but not tucked under a mattress or in a jar. He files for a divorce, provides the court his financial declaration, of course minus the money he has hidden from his wife. Unlike the wife from the 50’s or 60’s, his “secret savings” is in the 10’s of thousands, undeclared. During the divorce all assets are split 50/50 and the wife is happy to receive her fair share of the marital assets. The divorce is final and suddenly the ex-husband buys a new car, takes his young girlfriend on a trip and is living above the means of the settlement. Unbeknownst to the wife, he is spending the hidden assets from their marriage.

What is the difference between these two scenarios? Both squirreled away marital funds, different amounts in different situations! BUT, the husband was intentionally trying to deceive his wife and the courts. He purposely withheld financial information that legally should have been included in the settlement.

*Even though it may not be common, there are circumstances under which a divorce settlement can be reopened. State law allows for a settlement to be reopened when a party engages in misrepresentations or fraud, or in other limited circumstances.

Asset Search Case Example: Gerry had been served with marriage dissolution documents. She and her husband had been going to marriage counseling for over 6 months. Prior to the counseling sessions, they had had issues for approximately two years, but she had believed they could make the marriage work. They were still residing together, attending family functions and kids’ activities at school. The day she was served, she arrived home after work to find him and his personal belongings gone. Communication with him also revealed he was in a rush to get the divorce finalized and agreed to split everything 50/50 and pay child support per the court guidelines. We got a request from her attorney to conduct an Asset Search because something just didn’t add up. Our findings uncovered an account that had been opened several years ago with a current balance of $150,000.00. The account was in his and his brother’s name. Once the subpoena was served upon the financial institution all funds deposited into the account were linked directly to him. He wasn’t happy to hand over $75,000 and less happy to pay for her attorney fees.

Before you “believe what you know” and “don’t look into what you don’t” you could be cheating yourself out of your spouse’s true finances. After you retain an attorney, your second call should be to All in InvestigationsAll in Investigations., .

Brenda J. McGinley, Owner and Director