In Pennsylvania divorces, parties may hide marital assets and/or money from their spouses in hopes of paying less spousal support or getting more of the marital assets in the end. Parties may hide assets/money by:
- Transferring marital money to another account under a different name,
- Transferring marital money to an offshore account, or
- Transferring businesses to another person until after the divorce.
Unfortunately, these are not the only ways a party can hide marital property, money and assets. An experienced PA divorce lawyer can conduct a thorough asset search to help you find the hidden assets.
For a detailed discussion, see the below question and answer.
Question: My husband and I are getting a divorce after 30 years together. We got married straight out of college and we are now both in our mid 50s. I stayed home for most of our marriage taking care of our children, who are all now adults and live on their own. I have been working part-time as an office receptionist for the last 2 years and volunteer on other days I don’t work. I didn’t need to work, but I wanted to keep myself busy now that the kids are out of the house. My husband and I decided that we would handle the divorce ourselves without lawyers and that we would divide our assets fairly. We didn’t want it to be a nasty fight. My husband always handled the finances since he is the bread winner in the household. When he showed me the documents of what we have to divide, it didn’t seem quite right to me. I don’t want to believe it, but I suspect that he may be hiding assets. I vaguely remember him mentioning buying at least 2 businesses during our marriage, but I never asked questions because I trusted he knew what he was doing. I didn’t see any financial documents regarding those businesses. When I asked him, he denied it. Also, what we have in our savings account seems low to me, given that we live comfortably. Could he be hiding money in different accounts? How and where could he be hiding it? Should I look around the house for different documents? How can I find out if he is hiding money?
Answer: It is admirable that you and your soon to be ex-husband wanted to get an amicable divorce without involving a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer, but it seems that you may need one to help you in your situation. In our divorce law practice, we often encounter situations where spouses hide money, assets and other financial information. Unfortunately, it happens especially in situations where one spouse is uninformed about the couple’s finances.
There are many ways in which your husband could be hiding assets and money. In terms of the money in your bank accounts, he could have transferred the money from your bank accounts to another account held in someone else’s name. He could also have opened offshore accounts. He could be overpaying his credit card bills to create credit balances to use in the future.
In terms of his businesses, he could have transferred the business to another person until after your divorce is finalized. He could create fake employees to hide money, or he could even understate the income the business receives.
Unfortunately, these are not all of the ways people can hide their accounts, assets and money. There are numerous ways I have not mentioned.
Discovering Hidden Accounts and Assets in a Pennsylvania Divorce
You can look for documents in your house to see if there is anything laying around. Is there a hiding place your husband may put things? You can also ask your bank for statements and see if your husband has made any money transfers out of the account. You may also hire an investigator to find hidden assets. However, if you hire an investigator, make sure you are doing it ethically. Sometimes, if hidden assets are found, you may not be able to use that information as evidence because the method used to find the assets was illegal or unethical.
Many times, it is best to have a divorce lawyer who can legally help you find out if your husband is hiding assets. An experienced PA divorce lawyer would use the discovery process to gather all of the information. Your husband would be required to answer questions and provide documentation related to his financial situation. In addition, subpoenas may be served on financial institutions, businesses, etc., in order to locate hidden assets.
If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, you want to make sure you are protecting your interests. Our divorce lawyers in Doylestown and Newtown are experienced and are top rated family law lawyers in Pennsylvania. Feel free to call our office to schedule a consultation. (215) 968-1800 (Newtown Office) or (215) 340-5500 (Doylestown Office)