One of the most hotly disputed aspects of a divorce is the distribution of marital property. The court requires that both parties identify all marital assets and debts, which, in Florida, are then distributed between the parties following the equitable distribution doctrine.
But what happens when one party attempts to hide their assets from both their ex-spouse and the court?
If the court does not discover hidden assets, the party will get to retain them.
This begs the question: What are some ways we can look for potentially hidden assets?
Bank records can be revealing. Bank statements will show how money is moving and where it is going. While it may not provide specific information, it can lead to the discovery of numbers and accounts that may not add up – indicative of potentially hidden assets.
Credit cards may be obtained without the knowledge of one’s spouse. A hidden debt may be shocking and upsetting to a divorcing party, but it could also indicate a secret purchase one party may not know about.
Social media can be a useful tool for locating hidden assets. A party may inadvertently post pictures of assets such as vacation properties or boats. They might also post openly about hiding their assets.
Electronic evidence, such as text messages, emails, or digital purchase agreements and sales information may also be telling of hidden assets.
Retaining a forensic accountant is a great option for particularly complex financial situations, such as when a couple may own a trust, multiple businesses or properties, or when one or both spouses are self-employed. It is easy to lose track of intangible assets that are maneuvering across numerous accounts and a professional forensic accountant can sort out the mess for you.
Finally, a good old-fashioned private investigator can help to locate and identify a party’s hidden assets by providing tangible evidence that they find themselves.
Honesty is key as you venture through the divorce process. Dishonesty with the court can lead to damaged credibility, sanctions, and even a reopened case to consider revealed assets.
Disputes over the division of property can lead to a severely contentious divorce, and it is vital that any couple seeking a divorce in Florida understand how the process works. If you are considering getting divorced in the State of Florida, it is critical that you utilize a skilled divorce attorney to help ensure your property rights and best interests are protected. Contact the attorneys at the Kendrick Law Group today to learn how we can help.
Co-written by: Spenser Nampon, Law Clerk