Attorney or Paralegal?

Is Your Spouse Keeping Something From You?

It might take an event like a divorce for some people to find out just how sneaky their spouse can be. When it comes to revealing all, some spouses just hate to play fair. Read on to find out what to watch out for when spouses attempt to keep marital assets hidden during a divorce.

What to Understand About Marital Property

If you fail to recognize the need for a full financial accounting during a divorce, you could be making a huge mistake. Divorce is more than the ending of a relationship, it's a legal method of separating two people using a full and complete disclosure of financial facts. Certain bits of property are held outside of the relationship. For example, the follow categories of assets belong only the person and not the couple:

  1. Things owned by one party before the marriage.
  2. Things given only to one party during the marriage.
  3. Things inherited by one party during the marriage.

The rest of the couple's belongings are considered marital property. All marital property should be accounted for and valued, regardless of who thinks they own it or who might eventually leave the marriage with it. Part of the divorce process is to account for all assets that fall into the marital bucket. What happens to the property after that depends on several factors, such as:

  • The state where you live. Community property states and equitable distribution states take differing views on dividing marital property.
  • The marital settlement agreement as a whole. One of the most important reasons why a full financial accounting is so important is that judges tend to look at things as a whole. For example, you might agree to give up ownership of the home in return for cash from your spouse's 401(k).
  • Ownership relationships. Just because something is marital property doesn't mean that one party has an equal chance to have it. For example, if one party owned a dog, took care of the dog, took the dog to the vet, etc., then the dog is more likely to go to that party even, when the dog is clearly marital property.

Tips on Identifying Marital Property

Pay attention to the following:

  1. Blocked access to places you previously had access to. Bank accounts with changed passwords, safes with new combinations, locked desk drawers and filing cabinets, etc.
  2. Unexplained signs of significant spending on the part of your spouse (and that include gifts for you).
  3. More than the usual absences, trips out of town, etc.
  4. Laptops and phones that now require passwords to access.
  5. Tax returns completed without your knowledge.

Any of the above might raise an alarm, when you let your divorce attorney know. It's best to act quickly when identifying marital assets. Use a resource like Law Offices of Athina K. Powers.