Divorce requires honesty, and the laws set the process up to be as fair as possible. Fairness is particularly important when it comes to the division of marital property. For a divorcing couple, the issue of fairly dividing property may become difficult when one person suspects the other of having hidden assets.
Knowing where people typically try to hide assets can be of assistance in the hunt for them. Some spouses create false debt, transfer the assets to a third party, deny the existence of any assets or claim to have lost them.
Common strategies for locating hidden assets include examining past tax returns. For example, hidden property may appear in on schedules of itemized deductions, interest and dividends, or capital gains and losses. A business profit and loss statement may have a depreciation schedule that shows more assets that a related business purchased.
To determine whether or not a spouse has hidden assets, someone can use interrogatories, or requests for information. The spouse answering these written questions must do so truthfully and within a certain period of time. Interrogatories may pose questions about financial information, or they can demand that someone produce documents related to assets such as bank records or trust filings.
In addition to involuntary disclosures, voluntary disclosures can lead to useful information about assets. As each spouse makes disclosures, the other can note these for review and, if a dispute occurs, he or she can request an independent assessment or do an independent property inspection.
The use of depositions may also disclose assets. A deposition refers to an oral statement that a person gives under oath. An attorney asks the questions, and a court reporter records the answers.
The length of the deposition can vary, but there is still an expectation that the answers spouses give will be truthful. Because spouses give this testimony under oath, criminal and civil penalties could apply to any false statements.