If you believe that your soon to be ex is hiding assets in your Pennsylvania divorce, it is best to contact a divorce lawyer with experience in asset investigation and analysis.
An experienced lawyer would conduct an asset search through a legal process called “discovery.” Your attorney would request your spouse to do the following under a sworn statement which carries with it the penalties for perjury:
- Produce documents, such as financial statements, tax returns, bank account records, business records, etc.
- Answer interrogatories which are written questions regarding their financials he or she is obligated to answer, and
- Give a deposition, which is verbally answering questions under oath.
For a detailed discussion, see the below question and answer.
Question: My spouse and I have been married for 15 years, and we are headed for a divorce. I think my spouse is hiding assets from me in order to avoid paying me in the divorce. We live in Doylestown, PA, and my spouse owns a construction company that is very successful. As a result, we have lived a very good life. When we got married, we made the decision that I would stay at home and care for our kids. My spouse is the bread winner and took care of our finances, and I don’t usually look at our bank accounts. However, when I looked at our savings account the other day, we didn't have as much money in there as I thought we did. I want to believe that my spouse wouldn’t hide money, but I know friends who have gone through divorces tell me that their exes were hiding money from them. How can I find out if my spouse is hiding assets? Another question I have is, how would our assets be divided when we get a divorce?
Answer: Our firm has been handling Pennsylvania divorce cases for over 20 years, and unfortunately, we have come across cases where one spouse does in fact hide assets and money in hopes of not paying as much to the other spouse after a divorce.
Asset Investigation in a Doylestown, PA Divorce
An experienced PA divorce lawyer would search for hidden assets and accounts through a legal process called discovery where your spouse would be required to answer questions and provide documentation related to your spouse’s financial situation.
Request for Documents
Your lawyer would request that your spouse produce financial documents, including but not limited to, tax returns from your spouse’s business, all bank accounts under one or both spouses’ names, other accounts the spouse has with 3rd parties and any wire transfer documents.
Your lawyer can also send out written interrogatories for your spouse to answer. These are essentially questions your lawyer may ask your spouse about financial records, businesses, etc. Your spouse would then respond to these questions under oath.
Your divorce lawyer can also depose your spouse under oath. Essentially, a deposition is when a lawyer asks the opposing party to answer questions in front of a court reporter, who transcribes everything. At a deposition, the opposing party’s lawyer would also be present.
Although you can ask your spouse for all financial documents, he may not necessarily give you everything voluntarily. That is why it is best to have a lawyer conduct the search and investigation. Discovery is a legal process. Therefore, if your spouse does not provide the documents or information requested, the court has the power to compel your spouse to produce the documents. If your spouse still fails to comply, the court may punish your spouse by imposing a sanction, which can include monetary fines or even find in your favor on a particular issue in the divorce.
Dividing Assets in a Pennsylvania Divorce – Equitable Distribution
In terms of your second question, marital assets and property are divided through a process called “equitable distribution” in Pennsylvania divorces, including divorces in Doylestown and Newtown.
The term “equitable distribution” does not necessarily mean everything is divided equally or 50/50. Rather, the Bucks County family law courts consider relevant factors pursuant to Pennsylvania divorce law and then divide marital assets as the courts deem fair. Therefore, a party may receive more or even a significant portion of the marital asset or the entire marital estate.
Some of the factors the courts consider are length of the marriage, the age and health of each party, the amount and sources of income of each party, the contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party. Click here to see all of the factors Bucks County family law courts consider.
In general, divorces are difficult. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, you want to make sure you are protecting your interests. In order to best protect your interests, you want an experienced lawyer on your side. 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)