Divorces are complex situations, involving a lot of time in court to divide assets and make major financial decisions. One spouse may hide valuable assets during a divorce so he or she doesn’t have to split them with an ex. Here are 10 signs to look out for during a divorce to protect yourself from this type of fraud.
- Maintaining Control
If your spouse maintains complete control of bank account information and passwords, he or she may be hiding something. You deserve to know as much about your financial situation as your spouse does, and you have the right to access joint bank accounts at all times during a divorce.
- Being Secretive About Finances
It’s common for a spouse to act cagey and uncommunicative during a divorce, but if you get the feeling your ex is being secretive about financial matters to keep you in the dark or hide assets, demand information. Don’t allow your spouse to evade important questions or fail to give you the full picture.
- Owning a Private Mail Box
Consider hiring a private investigator in California during a divorce or using an investigator through your attorney to keep tabs on your spouse’s activities. If you discover your spouse keeps a separate P.O Box or private mail drop, he or she could be receiving financial statements in secret.
- Deleting Computer Programs
A common way a spouse who is typically in charge of finances hides assets is by deleting financial programs such as QuickBooks from your computer. He or she may also say a computer has mysteriously crashed, when really your spouse has stolen or destroyed the hard drive on purpose.
- Complaining About Finances
If your spouse suddenly starts complaining about the “poor” state of his or her finances, such as an immediate drop in business, major debt, or failed investments, he or she may be trying to trick you. Exaggerating, overstating, and lying about financial hardship can unfairly skew a settlement in your spouse’s favor.
- Lifestyle/Income Discrepancies
When a spouse lies about his or her income but is clearly living lavishly, it could be a sign that he or she has hidden assets. For example, if an income report puts your spouse below the poverty line but he or she makes expensive purchases or goes on extravagant vacations regularly, odds are that your spouse is lying about the true state of his or her financial situation.
- Sudden Account Activity Changes
If a shared bank account has had relatively stable withdrawal activity for years but you suddenly notice strange purchases or withdrawals, ask your spouse where the money is going. Track transactions and keep a close eye on your accounts. Confront your spouse about oddities directly or hire an attorney to handle communications for you.
- Demanding Your Signature
A spouse who is trying to quickly hide assets before going to divorce court may be overly assertive about demanding your signature on financial documents. If your spouse demands your signature, read the document before signing thoroughly, and take it to an attorney to be safe.
- Gifting to Family Members or Friends
Giving large gifts or assets to family members or friends during a divorce is a red flag that your spouse is trying to keep assets from you. He or she is likely trying to protect these assets from being split during divorce negotiations and will recover them once the divorce is final.
- Activity Overseas
If your spouse makes frequent trips to countries with lax banking laws or deals with a bank overseas, investigate. You or your attorney can send a subpoena to any bank that you suspect your spouse has an account to receive all records in your spouse’s name.
Stay vigilant with your financial information, accountants, and business-related activities during a divorce, and don’t assume your spouse is being honest about his or her assets.