Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional experience, both financially and mentally. Things can get even more complicated if one spouse tries to hide or keep information about their assets from the other spouse. This can result in an uneven distribution of assets and a lack of trust and cooperation between the spouses.
To protect your rights during a divorce, getting help from experienced divorce lawyers like those on our team at Pakpour Banks LLP is important. Below, we’ll talk about how to find hidden assets during a California divorce, protect your interests, and get a fair outcome.
How Does California Divide Assets During a Divorce?
California uses a community property system. This means that all the assets a couple acquires during their marriage, regardless of who earned them, are considered joint property. This means that upon divorce, they are subject to equal division.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Separate property, which includes assets acquired or owned before the marriage, inheritances received during the marriage, gifts from third parties, and personal injury settlements, remains the sole property of the spouse who owns it.
What Is Considered Community Property in California Divorce?
When it comes to divorce in California, community property covers a wide array of properties and items acquired during the marriage. Here are some common examples of community property in a California divorce:
- Real estate. This includes your family home, vacation homes, rental properties, and any other land or buildings you acquired during your marriage.
- Financial accounts. This includes bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and any other financial holdings of either spouse.
- Tangible assets. This includes vehicles, jewelry, collectibles, valuable artwork, and any other physical possessions you acquired during the marriage.
- Business interests. If you or your spouse owns a business or shares ownership in a company or partnership established during the marriage, those interests are considered joint assets.
- Debts accumulated during the marriage. Mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, and any other debts you and your spouse accumulated while married are equally divided between spouses.
Community property includes any assets acquired during the marriage, whether the property is in one or both spouses’ names. It doesn’t matter who earned the money or who bought the property.
What Are Hidden Assets During a California Divorce?
When getting a divorce, some spouses might purposely hide or keep their assets secret from their partner. These undisclosed assets can include various financial or non-financial items.
There are different reasons why a spouse might hide their assets. Some might want to avoid sharing their wealth, while others might want to get an unfair advantage in the divorce settlement. Other reasons include hiding their assets from possible creditors, avoiding paying spousal support or alimony, or getting revenge on the other party.
Hidden Assets: What to Look For
Hidden assets can come in many forms, from secret bank accounts and investment portfolios to unreported properties and valuable collectibles. There are many ways that spouses try to hide their assets, such as:
- Opening secret bank or investment accounts;
- Converting the funds into cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin;
- Sending money to bank accounts in other countries;
- Making up fake debts or bills to make it seem like they have less money than they really do;
- Not reporting all their income or assets on their tax returns; and
- Giving away their assets to friends, family, or business associates.
Being aware of these tactics can help ensure that your marital property is divided fairly and equally.
Strategies for Uncovering Hidden Assets
If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets during divorce proceedings, there are ways to uncover them. Here are some tips:
- Get legal help. Talk to an experienced divorce lawyer who can advise you on strategies for finding hidden assets and protecting your rights.
- Collect financial documents. Get copies of all financial records, including bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns, investment accounts, and any other relevant documents.
- Watch your spouse’s spending closely. Look for any changes in your spouse’s financial habits or lifestyle. Keep an eye out for unusual transactions, such as large cash withdrawals or expensive purchases.
- Talk to trusted people. Talk to friends, family members, or business associates who might know about your spouse’s financial dealings.
Finding missing assets during a divorce can be difficult, but with the right strategies, you can protect your financial interests and ensure you get your fair share.
What Are the Penalties for Hiding Assets in a California Divorce?
It’s important to note that hiding assets is illegal and may result in severe consequences, such as forfeiture of the hidden assets and charges of perjury or contempt of court. The spouse found guilty of hiding assets may also be required to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees and other legal fees.
Why You Should Hire a Divorce Attorney
If you suspect there are missing joint assets in a California divorce, it’s essential to talk to a lawyer immediately. An experienced divorce lawyer can help ensure a fair property division by finding hidden assets. A good California property division lawyer will know how to use all the tools available to find hidden assets. This includes things like interrogatories, subpoenas, and expert witness testimony. They can also help you understand the financial disclosure process and ensure that your spouse is honest about their finances.
Your lawyer can also protect your rights throughout the divorce process. They can help ensure that you get a fair share of the marital property, including retirement accounts, property, and any hidden assets.
Pakpour Banks LLP: Your Divorce Advocates
Divorce can be an emotionally difficult time, and hidden assets can have a significant impact on the outcome. At Pakpour Banks LLP, our experienced and caring California divorce lawyers have helped countless people in California navigate the complex legal system during this challenging time. We help you find hidden assets, protect your rights, and get a fair settlement. Contact us today to see how we can make a difference in your divorce case.