Steve Kazee, a Tony Award-winning actor, once said, “When you start hiding things away, that’s when the darkness creeps up. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Sunlight – in the form of a good family law attorney who can shed light on everything your ex may be hiding.
No matter how much marital bliss you found yourself in when it comes time for a divorce, asset distribution can be very painful. It’s especially painful when your ex decides not to be forthcoming and tries to hide some assets from the court. Family Matters Law Group invites you to learn more about hidden assets, and why an experienced attorney can be your best friend when trying to find them.
Obviously, the first step toward dividing assets is to create a comprehensive list of all the assets that are owned by each spouse. Assets can be separate (assets you had before marriage, or a specific inheritance or gift item), marital (acquired during marriage) or commingled (such as a joint bank account or IRA). The court will want to consider all assets when it decides how to evenly split both assets and debts.
At Family Matters Law Group, we see many cases where one spouse is the primary bookkeeper or asset manager in the marriage. This may leave one spouse as the “out-spouse,” meaning there is one spouse who does not have extensive knowledge of all the assets or financial dealings in the household. There is no problem when both parties can have access to all the financial records, as well as third-party accounts and asset listings.
Sometimes, though, a spouse wants to hide things from the “out-spouse” in the hopes they will receive a more favorable asset split than the spouse that is in the dark. At this point, you need the resources of the court and a good family law attorney.
There is actually a formal process to uncover documents and financial records in a divorce proceeding. It’s called the discovery process. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
Your attorney begins by asking your spouse for all documents related to the assets, regardless of how they are labeled. The attorney may also submit a list of written questions to be answered by your spouse. The attorney can request to personally inspect key assets such as a wine cellar or personal safety deposit box. Finally, the attorney can request a deposition, where they question your spouse under oath.
The advantage to having a family law attorney take these steps (versus you trying to do this on your own) is that the court can compel your spouse to answer truthfully and you, frankly, cannot. For example, if you ask your spouse to produce all the documents related to your various bank and retirement accounts, they may or may not do so completely and truthfully. However, if your attorney requests those documents in court, and a judge issues an order for them, your spouse risks being sanctioned by the court for non-compliance if they try to hide anything.
In addition, if questioned under oath, anyone who is deceitful risks being charged with perjury. This is another example of how the court can compel people to be more forthcoming and truthful.
When it comes to locating and tracking down hidden assets, an experienced Atlanta divorce attorney can be your best friend. If you suspect that your spouse is not being totally truthful, or you know for sure that key assets are not being reported to the court, you need to inform your attorney so they can petition the court and/or investigate the matter.
If you are going through a difficult divorce, and you reside in Henry, Clayton, Fayette or any other metro Atlanta county, then please contact Family Matters Law Group using our convenient online form. Let us be your sunlight and reveal all the hidden assets in your divorce proceeding.