You can’t afford to overlook the financial implications of your divorce. After all, a poorly negotiated divorce settlement, or mishandled litigation over property division and alimony, can leave you without the financial resources you deserve and perhaps need. Therefore, you need to take the steps that are necessary to protect your interests.
While California is a community property state, meaning that marital assets are divided evenly, you’re only going to obtain your fair share of the marital estate if you ensure that all assets are included. The sad reality, though, is that in many marriage dissolution cases one spouse tries to hide assets for their own individual use post-divorce.
So, you need to stay on your toes and be observant. If you spot any of the following red flags, then you might want to investigate further to determine if your spouse is hiding assets from you:
- Your spouse controls the finances: When there’s an imbalance of control over financial matters, those spouses who lack control are much more susceptible to being taken advantage of when it comes to hidden assets. Even if you have some access to financial records, though, you should be on the lookout for tightening restrictions, such as changed passwords.
- Unexplained withdrawals and payments: If you’re fortunate enough to have access to financial records, then make sure that you’re meticulously combing through them. Identify any questionable withdrawals or new payments, as they may be indicative of your spouse stashing cash away or paying for assets with a credit card that are then being kept away from you and the marital estate. Ask questions and try to figure out why those withdrawals are being taken.
- Your spouse complains about financial woes: In some instances, a spouse who hides assets tries to conceal their wrongdoing by complaining about the status of the marital finances. A spouse who does this might claim that they, or the couple together, has an excessive amount of debt, sometimes claiming that additional assets are needed to pay down the debt. Be wary in these circumstances, especially if the change in behavior is sudden and unexpected.
- Business income or expenses seem out of alignment: A spouse can easily use a business to hide assets. Wages can be paid to employees who don’t exist, and expenses can be created in hopes of diverting assets away from the marital estate. Make sure that you have access to business records so that you identify any financial moves that are questionable so that you can investigate further.
- You find stashes of cash: One of the easiest ways to hide assets is to simply place cash where one doesn’t expect it to be found. So, if you find a significant amount of money hidden somewhere in your house, then there’s probably more elsewhere. These are likely marital assets that need to be taken into account during the property division process.
Fight to get what you deserve
The property division laws in California are written in an attempt to ensure fairness. But that fairness isn’t automatic. Far too often the burden lies on individuals like you to ensure that fairness plays out as it’s intended. That means fully investigating the marital estate and following up on any red flags that indicate that marital assets may be hidden. It’s not an easy task, of course, but it might be necessary if you want to start your post-divorce life with the financial stability that you deserve.