Property division is probably the second most difficult aspect of any divorce hearing, with child custody being the first. As a community property state, Texas divides assets into categories that are essentially “hers,” “his,” and “ours.” Anything that is “hers” or “his” is separate property and was acquired prior to the union or by inheritance. Anything that is “ours” is marital property, and was acquired post-nuptials. With this property, the judge will divide it evenly between the two spouses, including any money earned or won throughout the marriage. Most divorcing individuals are all too aware of Texas’s stance on property division, and unfortunately, some unscrupulous divorcees try to hide their assets prior to the property division hearing. This is illegal and can exponentially complicate the divorce process.
When assets are hidden, it can take months or even years to discover them. Some individuals do not discover that their spouse had hidden assets until years after the final decree is handed down. When this happens, they are either forced to go back to court with the evidence or let it go. However, when hidden assets are discovered prior to the finalization of the divorce, the judge will not make a final judgement until the assets are found. While discovering hidden assets is never easy, there are a few techniques that our Dallas divorce attorneys use to make it a little bit easier.
Analyze Checking Account Statements
One thing our attorneys do is look to the checking account statements of joint and separate accounts for any suspicious activity, including large withdrawals, large transfers, and canceled checks. We also look for large purchases, particularly those of real estate.
Review Income Tax Returns
Tax returns do not lie (at least, those that are accurate and legally done do not), so this is usually one of the first documents we look towards for signs of missing money. If your spouse’s returns show that he or she earned significantly more in past years than reported on his or her current return, it could indicate that your spouse has been hiding assets. Even if everything appears to be normal, each page of the return should be carefully examined for rental income, gains and losses from stock sales, assets sales, and other red flags.
Look for Savings Withdrawals
Large withdrawals from a savings account or money fund could point to the fact that your spouse has a hidden asset such as stock that pays dividend or accrues interest.
Analyze Business Cash Flow Procedures
If your spouse owns his or her own business, it does not hurt to review business cash flow procedures. Though it is safest for business owners to keep personal and business expenses separate, your spouse may feel more comfortable putting personal money “into the business” to keep it as “separate property,” or vice versa—he or she could be taking incoming money and not recording it, and then stashing it in a private investment account. If this is suspected, our attorneys will review the accounts payable records to the cash receipt records for any discrepancies.
Check for Offshore Accounts
Finally, our lawyers will look for signs of any offshore accounts. Though offshore banks make it virtually impossible for third parties to obtain information on a patron’s account, a copy of the party’s passport information can reveal destinations where an offshore account might be located.
An Experienced Lawyer can Make a World of Difference
If you try and attempt to locate the hidden assets on your own, you may end up hurting your own cause. In addition to not being aware of where and how to look, you may accidentally overstep your legal boundaries and be guilty of harassment, stalking, or worse. Let an experienced Dallas divorce attorney do the hard work for you of uncovering the hidden assets in a legal and efficient manner. Call Udeshi Clark and Associates today to get started.