Finding Hidden Assets During Divorce
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 31% of U.S. adults who combined assets with a spouse or partner say they have been deceptive about money and 58% of these adults say they hid cash from their partner or spouse. Concealing financial assets from a spouse is common, particular in divorce. Fortunately, however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Below are some tips for finding hidden assets during divorce:
- Traditional Subpoenas and Forensic Accounting. If you know the financial institution your spouse uses, your attorney can most likely issue a document subpoena to that institution requesting all statements and cancelled checks. Fairfax Family Law Firms (like ours) that frequently handle complex, high asset cases will have an existing framework in place to gather, organize and analyze such financial data. We also have existing relationships with seasoned forensic accountants who will follow deposits and withdraws to “zero-out” the accounts.
- Private Investigation Services. Private investigation firms can not only follow and photograph your spouse, but can also often perform paid “skip searches” to uncover personal information about your spouse such as criminal records, utility services, credit information, licensing and titling information. Most Northern Virginia Divorce Law Firms will have existing relationships with Private Investigation Services and will know how to properly use the information investigators obtain.
- Google search or Free Public Record search. A surprising amount of information can be gathered by simply “Googling” your spouse’s name and his/her employer. For example, an employer’s website may disclose details about your spouse’s job responsibilities or benefits he or she is entitled to receive. Free public records might disclose real estate or commercial transactions, but will generally not be as inclusive as paid searches.
- Review Internet Browsing History. Take a close look at the internet browsing history of the family computer. It may yield interesting insight into the websites visited by other family members. For example, you may uncover previous website visits to a financial institution where you do not believe you have an account. You may discover visits to other, more colorful websites as well.
- Review Social Networking sites. People post all manner of personal and professional data on websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Moreover, friends and colleagues post information about other people on such websites. Has your spouse claimed poverty, but posted pictures of a lavish purchase or vacation? Has a business partner commented on a recent professional transaction (yet undisclosed to you)? These sites are sometimes a treasure trove of useful information.
- Professional Electronic Data Collection. The abilities of computer forensic professionals continues to astound me. Often they are able to retrieve hidden data or recover “deleted” data directly from electronic devices. It seems almost nothing is ever truly deleted.
If you’ve got questions about finding hidden assets in divorce or tracing financial transactions, feel free to drop me a line. Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran Moher Weis P.C. – firstname.lastname@example.org – 10300 Eaton Place, Suite 520 Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020.