Searching for Hidden Assets in an Iowa Divorce
How to find assets your spouse may be concealing from you when you divorce.
This list includes common ways in which a spouse may undervalue or disguise marital assets in an attempt to defeat the court's orders to pay obligations related to divorce. Be advised, however, that even if you know assets exist, you may have difficulty finding some items your spouse is determined to hide or getting the proof you need to show they exist. Hiring a forensic accountant or making use of formal discovery procedures may help to uncover those assets. A forensic accountant is a person who examines the spending habits, bank deposits, withdrawals, lifestyle patterns, travel destinations, etc. to reconstruct/deduce a subject's net worth, income and expenditures and detect where assets may be hidden or where income misstatements may appear to have taken place. Techniques used to underestimate or hide assets include:
Get the Goods (on Paper) Before It Ends
If you suspect that your spouse may attempt to hide assets, it's best to start investigating your household and business finances before initiating divorce proceedings. Make copies of important documents such as tax returns from the past several years, personal and business bank account statements, pay stubs, brokerage statements, and any other documents that reflect joint assets or debts. Gather all information about retirement accounts or pensions. Keep copies of these documents outside the home if you're still living with your spouse or partner. Also, as a precautionary measure, you might want to open a separate savings account in your name only. If a significant business or professional practice exists, a professional financial valuation is essential, although expensive.
For a spouse who keeps the family home, remember to factor in the cost of upkeep, taxes, property value fluctuations, and so on, especially if one party takes a house worth, for example, $300,000 and the other spouse takes the equal current value in stocks. Consider the future potential value and liability of each of these assets.
If your spouse hides assets, you may find yourself in need of a nest egg. Down the line, you may have to relinquish some of your savings to your spouse—after all, we're not encouraging you deal with a dishonest spouse by stooping to the same level—but having a little extra cash on hand may ward off a crisis in the wake of your divorce.