Finding Hidden Income and Assets
April 11, 2023
Divorce is about beginnings as much as it is about endings. Whether your marriage was brief or lengthy, your fresh start comes at a price. You will need financial and other resources to begin a life without your spouse.
As a community property state, Washington law holds that you are entitled to one-half of all marital assets in a divorce. However, some people may attempt to take more than their share by hiding income and assets in an effort to obscure them from discovery. In other words, they plan on taking more than their fair share provided for under the law.
In more than 50 years of practicing family law, William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law, has witnessed such deception at work. He represents those in Grays Harbor County, including Montesano, Hoquiam, and Aberdeen, or in Pacific County, including Raymond and South Bend, Washington. If you believe your spouse may be concealing marital assets, he will turn over stones in striving to find the truth. Don't move forward without a skilled attorney’s support, and reach out today to Attorney Morgan.
How Are Marital Assets Divided in Washington?
Community property states like Washington divide marital assets and debts equally. Any assets, debts, and income acquired during the marriage are subject to division. Assets owned by each spouse before marriage, gifts to a spouse, or an inheritance, are separate assets and that spouse retains ownership of them in divorce.
Although what is marital and what is separate sounds black and white, it can be colored in shades of gray. A house purchased by one spouse prior to marriage but maintained and the mortgage paid by marital income during the marriage is both marital and separate.
Moreover, a spouse may try to keep 100% of an asset they claim to be separate when, in fact, it may be marital. You may have to demand proof of ownership so you can protect your fair share during the division of assets in Washington divorce.
What Are Some Ways Assets and Income Are Hidden?
In addition to laying claim to some assets or income as separate property, there are some common ways people attempt to hide them.
It is common in marriages that one spouse handles the financial affairs, and it can be particularly easy for that spouse to conceal things. If yours takes care of banking deposits and withdrawals, manages retirement accounts, and prepares your income tax return, they can obscure income, especially if you sign documents at their request without detailed inspection. A healthy raise or annual bonus you never know about might never make it to your joint account. Instead, that cash could be used to purchase a vacation property, antiques, artwork, or other potentially valuable collectibles, none of which you know about.
Devious spouses can use the marital income to buy expensive items or getaways for adultery partners or give money to their close friends or family until after the divorce is final, at which time it is returned to them.
A business owned by your spouse is an easy place to obscure money. They may claim the business is losing money when, in fact, they are hiding profits.
How Can I Uncover the Truth?
You must be careful about finding hidden assets during divorce on your own. It is easy to run afoul of the law if you aren’t sure what you legally can and cannot access. That is why it is wise to have your family law attorney locate assets for you. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets or income, be completely honest and upfront with your lawyer.
There are, of course, certain areas you have legal access to. For example, you can request copies of all income tax returns, complete with schedules. You can request copies of all bank and investment records for all marital accounts. You can check all purchases, cash withdrawals, and payments made on all marital credit cards. Your lawyer will not only know what you can access, but how to access the information you need.
Moreover, your attorney will know what to look for and where. For example, there are likely ways to find discrepancies, such as comparing the income reported on a tax return with bank records. Knowing where to look and what to look for is half the battle.
Your family law attorney will also use the divorce discovery process as a tool. During discovery, you and your spouse will each inventory all marital income, assets, and debts, and all income, assets, and debts you claim to be separate property. You will sign the inventory, testifying that it is complete to the best of your knowledge. This inventory is often a jumping-off point for discovering what your spouse may be obfuscating or claiming as separate property. Your attorney can challenge the inventory, depose your spouse and others, such as friends, family, and business partners, under oath, and provide evidence to the court of your spouse’s attempts to hide assets.
Protect Your Rights to Assets
Starting over after divorce usually comes with financial hurdles. You will likely need at least half of the assets and income you are entitled to in order to move on. Serving Grays Harbor County, Washington, family law attorney William E. Morgan will help you protect your right to those assets, whether they are revealed or not.
Protect yourself. Reach out to William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law today.