While there are many different reasons why a couple chooses to end their marriage, one common theme in most divorces is the loss of trust by one or both partners.

When mistrust is present in a marriage headed for divorce, it’s possible to believe that spouses will try to conceal assets to achieve a better outcome when their property is divided.

How do spouses hide assets?

To understand how to track down marital property, you must know the typical ways that spouses hide assets, including:

  • By creating false debt
  • Claiming the property is lost
  • Denying that it ever existed
  • Transferring it to another person

Where are the best places to look?

Proving that a spouse is hiding property can be challenging, but with some diligence and the help of your family law attorney, there is usually a paper trail to follow. Check these documents and places:

  • Tax returns: Going through the past five years of your taxes can uncover income, stocks and dividends as well as trusts, partnerships and real estate holdings.
  • Checking accounts: Looking through canceled checks and statements can reveal payments for assets you were not aware of, such as an investment property.
  • Savings accounts: Unusual withdrawals or deposits can reveal hidden assets, such as receiving dividends from an investment. Make copies of all financial statements before starting the divorce process.
  • County courthouse: If your spouse applies for a loan through a mortgage company or bank, their application is on file listing all assets as well as their estimated values.
  • Delayed income or benefits: Spouses can conceal income by having their employer delay a pay raise, bonus, retirement benefits or stock options until after a divorce is final.

Take inventory to ensure a fair outcome

If you are considering divorce, take control by making a checklist of all assets and debts owned by you and your spouse. Make sure you have the documentation for all assets in your name, your spouse’s name or both. Take that step before the process begins as it’s not unusual for property to disappear once the proceedings are underway.