“Financial infidelity” plagues a lot more marriages than most people would expect. In one study, only a little more than half of spouses said they believe their husband or wife is completely honest with them about money. Further, just over 60% claimed to be completely transparent with their spouse about finances.
This can be anything from a secret credit card that’s got a balance in the five figures to millions of dollars squirreled away in offshore accounts. A spouse’s hidden assets or debt can potentially have a significant effect on the other’s future financial well-being.
Taking steps to protect your financial future
If you’re divorcing a spouse whom you believe or know has not been fully honest about finances during your marriage, it’s crucial to take steps to protect yourself from losses and to make sure you know of all of the assets you’re entitled to share. Early in the divorce process, spouses are legally required to disclose all debts and assets. That doesn’t guarantee that they’ll do that, unfortunately.
There are steps you can take, such as getting an automatic temporary restraining order (ATRO) to help prevent your spouse from “dissipating” assets, like emptying out bank accounts or maxing out credit cards. It’s still important to keep an eye on bank accounts, credit card activity and other statements if you’re even considering divorce (or believe your spouse is) to make sure they don’t do anything ahead of an ATRO that could cost you.
Hidden debts are often easier to find than hidden assets. That’s why some spouses bring a forensic accountant onto their divorce team. If you believe your spouse is hiding a significant amount of money in some way (and there are myriad ways), a forensic accountant could be well worth the additional investment in your divorce. Of course, the first step is getting experienced legal guidance to help protect your rights and your future.