Finding Hidden Income & Assets
July 22, 2022
You’re in the process of getting divorced, and you get the nagging suspicion that your spouse is hiding assets or income from you. Idaho is a community property state, meaning whatever either spouse acquired during the marriage is equally owned by both – 50/50.
Up to this point, you have been working with your spouse on a non-contested divorce, in which the two of you agree upon the division of assets and present it to the court for approval, but with the suspicion of hidden assets, you’ve been thrown a curveball.
When this happens, you can demand that your spouse turn over all financial records and enlist the aid of an experienced family law attorney.
If in Boise or Meridian, Idaho, and you suspect your spouse of hiding assets during your divorce proceedings, contact the Shep Law Group.
We can work with you to use every legal recourse to uncover the true financial picture of your spouse to achieve an equitable divorce. We proudly serve clients in Ada County, Canyon County, and throughout Idaho.
Division of Assets in Idaho
As mentioned earlier, Idaho is a community property state, which means that everything acquired during the time of marriage is a joint asset. Idaho law also recognizes separate property – which is owned by a spouse prior to marriage that can remain that person’s separate property unless it becomes commingled.
Commingled is a process by which a separate asset gets mixed up with joint assets. For instance, one spouse owns a rental unit but uses funds from a joint bank account to pay for repairs. The property becomes commingled, and the other spouse is entitled to part of it.
Idaho law also recognizes that inheritances and gifts in the name of a spouse remain that person’s separate property even though the events took place during the time of marriage.
Common Hidden Assets or Income
Physical objects are probably harder to hide than cash or instruments that can be converted to cash. Art collections, gun collections, antiques, and the like can be stowed away in a rented storage unit or hidden in your spouse’s office, where you never venture. But then the rental unit has to be paid for, so there should be records of that.
As for cash, it can be converted into travelers’ checks or even paid to a friend as a “debt,” with the stipulation that it be returned in the event of divorce. The spouse may also work with their employer to withhold a bonus or other income until it can no longer become community property, for instance, after separation or the conclusion of the divorce. The spouse could also not bother to report the bonus and stash away the proceeds.
If your spouse owns a business, they can skim cash from the business or make the assets appear smaller by writing and recording fake checks to employees or suppliers who don’t exist. The business owner can also pay friends or relatives for “services” that never took place, with the stipulation that the money is returned after divorce.
Uncovering the Truth
The first step is to demand that your spouse be honest and turn over all financial and other pertinent records. If your spouse refuses or tries to present one or two almost meaningless documents in response, your first instinct may be to investigate.
When the spouse is away, you can scour every cabinet drawer, the garage, and every possible hiding place for evidence. You may actually find something, but probably not. You don’t want to overstep your boundaries and start trying to hack into your spouse’s hard drive or cell phone. That could end up getting you in a bad situation.
Your best route is to seek the guidance and help of an experienced family law attorney. There are legal steps you can take to get your spouse to turn over the documents you’re seeking.
You can use the family law court where your divorce is being heard as the first step. Your attorney can demand that your spouse turn over all financial statements, tax returns, loan applications, and other documents. The court can even apply sanctions if they don’t comply.
Your attorney can also turn to what is known as the discovery process, in which your spouse will be issued a set of questions – called interrogatories – that they must answer under court order. Your attorney can also demand a physical inspection of all property, including safe deposit boxes or storage units.
A final step is an oral deposition before a court reporter. The deposition is taken under oath, so if your spouse lies, they can be liable for a charge of perjury. The threat of criminal prosecution is often enough for your spouse to come clean.
Turn to Knowledgeable Legal Counsel
Before you go sleuthing on your own and potentially get yourself in a dilemma, contact an experienced family law attorney to pursue the legal remedies available. We at the Shep Law Group have handled just about every type of divorce situation, including the hiding of assets, and we will work with you to uncover the true extent of all community assets relevant to the divorce.
If you’re in Boise, Meridian, surrounding communities, or anywhere in Idaho, reach out immediately if you suspect your spouse of hiding assets.