When a divorce is in the works, sorting out financial issues can out a lot of stress on both parties. Sometimes, one of the spouses may feel tempted to hide assets in order to gain the advantage when it comes to division, or even simply out of spite.
Unfortunately, even people we think we know well can still deliver unpleasant surprises. Knowing some common signs of deceptive behavior can help you protect your interests and move towards a fair property division process.
Opening unknown accounts
Someone trying to put away income on the sly will often open new bank accounts or credit cards. Indications include paper or electronic statements for accounts you did not know existed. Taking your name off joint accounts and cutting off your access are also very suspicious signs.
Making excessive credit card payments
Another tactic involves siphoning off earnings or assets. One way people do this is by overpaying their credit card bills, as paying more than the balance effectively builds up a stash. Likewise, unexplained payments from joint accounts should give rise to further investigation.
Giving it away
Spouses may also divert funds by giving money to close friends or relatives under the pretext of repaying debts or giving gifts. Typically, these are people the spouse can rely on to later return the money.
Alleging reduced income
If your spouse complains his or her business is losing money, yet makes no attempt to cut expenses, you may want to look further. This tactic tends to be more popular among owners of businesses with large cash incomes, as other types of income are more likely to be revealed in tax documents or trigger an audit if not reported.
Cutting off access to information
Spouses who want to squirrel away money obviously do not want you to know about it. Keeping this secret will often mean cutting you off from important financial information. Even if you are not in charge of the family’s accounting and finances, staying informed can help you identify danger signals earlier. If your spouse changes the account passwords, rents a post office box or tries to get you to sign papers without reading them carefully, something is likely to be very wrong.