The Solvable Mystery of Hidden Marital Assets and/or Income
In a perfect world, your spouse will be transparent and honest about assets and income during the divorce process. A Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (DRFA), listing all income, expenses, assets, and liabilities is required in divorce proceedings to help the court make educated decisions regarding alimony (i.e., spousal support), child support, and/or property division. A party will have to sign a Verification swearing under oath that the contents of the DRFA are true and correct. Submitting inaccurate information or hiding assets/income to reduce one’s financial obligations can result in negative consequences.
Here are a few clues that your spouse may have financial secrets to uncover:
Neglecting to give access to banking information;
Spending more money than he or she is known to earn;
Emptying a joint checking account right before filing for divorce;
Having more than one bank account or mailing address; and
Traveling to countries with minimal tax laws, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any of these signs could imply that your spouse is depleting the marital estate or racking up debt to minimize his or her potential financial obligations in the divorce. Regardless, it is critical you report suspicious behavior to your Georgia family law attorney as soon as possible. They will be able to help you gather proper evidence to bring to court. Record any and all evidence of hidden assets: photographs, screenshots of texts or other social media/dating sites, or anything that proves spending that does not align with known income.
A Family Law Attorney is Your Co-Detective
It can be challenging to prove that your partner is hiding assets or income. Fortunately, your family law attorney has the means to discover the truth in a litigation process called “discovery,” through which information and associated documents are formally demanded. One of these “discovery” pleadings can request immediate production of documents. In other words, your Georgia family law attorney can legally require your spouse to come clean about their bank statements, credit card information, retirement documents, and more. Furthermore, the Georgia law permits your attorney to send formal subpoenas to your spouse’s bank or other financial institutions requiring them to directly produce the requested materials regarding your spouse. If he or she does not cooperate with your attorney’s request, then a court order can be sought to force compliance and impose sanctions for failing to comply with the discovery process.
Other measures can be taken to prove your suspicions. A family law attorney can recommend a number of expert forensic accountants to closely examine your spouse’s financial activity in order to discover hidden assets and income. The forensic accountant has the ability to gather evidentiary support to be used in your defense during court proceedings.