New York state law requires that in any marital action where there is a potential issue of alimony, maintenance or support that both parties are subject to compulsory disclosure of their finances and assets. The law is fairly expansive in what it requires to be disclosed. Many of our clients are surprised to learn how common it is for spouses to hide assets from one another. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 31 percent of U.S. adults who comingle assets with their spouse or partner admit to being deceptive about money.
In a press release by the NEFE, the study discovered that:
- 58 percent hid cash from their spouse or partner.
- 54 percent hid minor purchases from their spouse or partner.
- 30 percent said they hid a statement or bill from their spouse or partner.
- 34 percent said they had lied about income, debt, or finances.
The reason for this compulsory disclosure is so both estranged parties and the court have an accurate basis upon which to arrive at a final divorce decision. A knowledgeable Nassau County divorce lawyer will help you to ensure that there aren’t any hidden or undisclosed assets which could potentially render your final divorce judgment patently unfair.
How To Make Your Spouse Disclose All in a Divorce
There are many ways to smoke out these hidden assets, which include tactics such as requesting for examination:
- Tax returns
- Credit card records
- Any loan applications or documents—these often require detailed financial information
- Business agreements or contracts
- Employment Agreements
- Title agreements
- Assets searches
- Private Investigators
Most of these documents can be recovered through the use of the discovery process, whereby your divorce attorney makes a written request, for documents, and subpoenas on financial institutions. Your attorney will want to cast as wide of a net as possible, requesting documentation for income, assets, debts, and liabilities. Potential records may include things like receipts, deeds, title records, account statements, subscription agreements, stock certificates, tax documents, etc.
If the other person fails to comply with a discovery order, it may be necessary to get a subpoena, either of that person or the relevant location of the suspected item, such as a bank for example. You may also be able to have the court order an inspection of a particular asset, such as a wine or art collection, and a valuation can be arranged as well.
Additionally, it may be in your best interest to consult a forensic accountant, in order to conduct an in depth analysis of the individual’s business and other dealings.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that if the other party truly is hiding an asset, even if it is not discovered until after trial, courts retain the discretion to re-order valuations and divorce terms based upon the new evidence or fraud.
Dissipating Martial Assets
Once an action for divorce is commenced in New York, Automatic Orders come into effect that prohibit either party from transferring or dissipating assets while the action is pending. The purpose of the Automatic Orders are to preserve the financial status quo of the marriage. Violation of the Automatic Orders may result in a party being found in civil contempt.
Why Complete Financial Disclosure Matters
Considering the potentially vulnerable position which individuals may feel when required to divulge their most personal financial information, it may not come as a surprise that during the course of a marital dissolution, and sometimes even before formal proceedings have been filed, people sometimes attempt to hide or sell off assets, so that they can avoid having to lose them during a divorce.
What exactly constitutes an asset can be fairly expansive, and thus difficult to keep track of—particularly if an individual is attempting to hide something without you ever knowing of its existence!
Types of assets that people may attempt to hide include things like: jewelry, real estate holdings, stocks or other financial investments, businesses, bank accounts, patents or other inventions, artwork, etc.
We Can Help with Your Hidden & Undisclosed Assets
If you suspect that your former spouse is hiding or failing to disclose assets, consult with the experienced Nassau County divorce attorneys at Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. We will work with you to ensure that your spouse’s disclosure is truthful and complete. Let us work to uncover the true financial picture, so that you can focus on the other more important matters that require your time during the course of a divorce.
We will keep your legal rights and best interests from the moment you decide to hire our firm. Our divorce attorneys will work hard to finalize a divorce that addresses all of the relevant considerations. Call us today at (516) 406-8381 or contact us
online to schedule your free initial consultation.