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Finding your spouse's hidden assets

If divorce is looming, you may have concerns. It is not uncommon to struggle financially in the months and years following a divorce, especially if you earned less than your partner did during the marriage. You may hope your divorce will leave you with a fair share of the marital assets as allowed by Florida law. However, your spouse may decide not to play fair and hide assets to which you have a rightful claim.

You may have made it easy for your spouse if you maintained a hands-off attitude toward the family finances. By allowing your spouse to manage the money, control the investments and pay the bills, you may have a weak grasp of your true marital worth. The time to change that is now.

Where to look

It would be wise for you to learn as much as you can about your spouse's wages and your overall financial health while you search for any assets your spouse may have hidden from you. Some places where you may find evidence of hidden assets include the following:

  • Tax returns from the past five years may show your spouse's true income as well as any trusts or real estate your spouse did not share with you.
  • A joint checking or savings account may reveal large withdrawals or checks for which there is no explanation.
  • You may also see unusual deposits, which may indicate your spouse has another source of income.
  • If your spouse has taken out a loan or mortgage, those documents will likely be on file at the courthouse, and they will include information about your spouse's assets.
  • Many spouses hide assets by purchasing real estate, and the tax assessor's office in your Florida county will have that information.
  • Your spouse may ask his or her employer to delay paying a bonus, raise or stock options until after the divorce is final.
  • Your spouse may ask a friend or relative to hold money or assets or create a ruse of loaning someone money to be repaid after the divorce.

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, it is important to bring it to the court's attention. A spouse who tries to protect marital assets from property division could face penalties when your divorce finally goes before a judge. Additionally, you may want to investigate whether your spouse dissipated any of your joint assets by spending them on an adulterous partner. You may have to do some scouting, but it will be worth it to get your fair share of marital assets.

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