When you are getting divorced, it’s natural to have quite a few things on your mind that you are going to have to worry about. Sometimes, when your spouse is hiding income or assets, they’re hoping to keep it out of the divorce. They might be trying to ensure that you get less, or that they don’t have to pay as much in child support, for example.
As dastardly as it might seem, it happens all the time. People don’t want to lose any more money than is necessary, so they sometimes try to hide it during the divorce. Below are some of the things that people may try to do to hide income and assets. Keep these in mind if you feel that your spouse is trying to hide anything.
In some cases, when someone knows they are getting a divorce, they might ask their employer to stop paying commission, bonuses, etc. If you know that your spouse typically makes a certain amount of money, and they are claiming less than that, or they aren’t including the normal commissions, it’s something to look into. There is a chance they could be deferring parts of their income until after the divorce just to make it look as though they are earning less.
Hiding Perks and Benefits
In some cases, the spouse might be hiding other things from the job, such as certain perks. This might include an expense account, a paid parking space, a clothing allowance, or a meal allowance, for example. Even though these might seem to be extra parts of the job, they are essentially part of the income. If the company didn’t give them those perks, it would have to come from their income, therefore, it should count in the divorce.
Another example would be if your spouse has a company car that they have been given for personal use. If there are expense accounts that are used to entertain clients, but your spouse keeps part of the money, that should be included, too.
Take some time to look through other aspects of your spouse’s income, perks, and benefits that you don’t normally think about. There is a chance that some of those could be included as part of the income. If you aren’t certain, you might want to speak with an attorney or a forensic accountant.
Selling Off Assets or Lying About the Value
Do you know of all of the assets you and your spouse have? Are you certain you know everything they have and the value of those items? A lot of times, spouses might not have a full and true understanding of the value of certain possessions and assets. For example, if one spouse has a collection of designer purses that were bought during the marriage with community funds, they could be worth far more than the other spouse knows. The same might be true of a comic book collection.
During a divorce, a spouse might try to lie about the value of certain assets, so they don’t have to give up as much in the divorce. Other times a spouse might attempt to sell off assets before the divorce is finished, so they don’t have to share the money with their spouse. This is not allowed, but some spouses will still try to do it.
Hiding and Diverting Bonuses
There is also the chance that a spouse might try to move bonuses to a different account. Some people who are going through a divorce might ask that their employer only pay part of their bonus to their regular account. They might then ask that the rest be put into a different account, this is a red flag if you’re thinking your spouse is hiding income.
This is so they can hide the bulk of the bonus. They try to claim that they had a smaller bonus, which was what was put in their regular account. They keep the rest of the money hidden. If you are concerned that your spouse could be doing this because they usually get larger bonuses, you will want to look into it.
What About Vacation Time and Sick Time?
Although you don’t want to take away your spouse’s sick time or vacation time, if they opt to get paid for that time rather than using it for sick days or vacation, it should be counted as income. Some companies will let employees turn in their stored up time at the end of the year and take cash for it rather than taking the time. If that is something your spouse does or will be doing, make sure that you consider the value of those days in your divorce settlement.
Hiding Money with Loans
One of the other things that people have tried is to hide their money in loans. They ask to borrow money from friends or family before they get their divorce. This is to try to show the court that they are having trouble making ends meet and can’t afford to give up too much in the divorce. The money that is “lent” doesn’t exist in most cases, or if it does, it’s given back to the lender almost immediately. It’s all a sham meant to make them look like they are destitute.
Work with an Attorney
Most of the time, you aren’t thinking about all of the potential ways that your spouse could try to pull the wool over your eyes. However, the truth of the matter is that this can and does happen, even in divorces where everything seems to be amicable. As a matter of fact, amicable divorces often make it easier for one spouse to get one over on their ex because they aren’t expecting it.
Regardless of the circumstances of the divorce, if you suspect that your spouse is hiding income, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney—and potentially a forensic accountant—about looking into the income and asset situation. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry and working with specialists can give you some peace of mind.