Think your ex is hiding marital property? Take action quickly

You are ready to divide your marital assets, but something seems off. Maybe your bank account has fewer funds than you expected or you cannot find the paperwork documenting some of your investments. Are you becoming forgetful from all of the stress involved with a divorce? Unfortunately, it might be more likely that your ex-spouse is hiding marital property.

People often believe that hidden assets are only a problem in high-asset divorces. This common misconception can lead some people to second-guess their instincts. In reality, virtually any person in any type of divorce can hide assets.

How can I avoid this problem?

If you are planning to ask your spouse for a divorce, you need to thoroughly inventory your marital assets. This includes documenting bank accounts, investments, mortgages, sources of income, debts and more. It can take some time to acquire such information, but you can more easily verify your suspicions if you have this information on hand. If you are not sure where to start, your mortgage closing documents generally contain much -- although not all -- of your needed information.

What do you do if your ex was the one who filed for divorce? You should still create a thorough list of all marital assets as early on as possible. Your ex might have had an opportunity to hide assets before asking for a divorce, but the process can still help you identify further attempts.

Where should I look for hidden assets?

Hiding assets is much easier than most people think. Methods can include simply saying they lost an asset, claiming it never existed in the first place or temporarily transferring property to another person. It is also possible to create a trail of fake debt to conceal certain property.

These types of actions generally leave some type of paper trail. Tracking down that paper trail can be difficult, but both mortgage closing papers and tax documents can reveal a large amount of relevant information. For example, the interest and dividend section on a tax document -- schedule B -- identifies assets that produce dividends and interest that your ex might be hiding. Many people will hide assets from their spouses, but not the IRS.

You deserve financial stability

There is no denying the financial impact of divorce. However, no one should put off divorce because of financial concerns. Things like alimony, child support and property division all help ensure your future financial stability. Unfortunately, that stability could be at risk if your ex is hiding assets.

Arizona is a community property state, which means that you may be entitled to half of all marital property. You know just how much could be on the line if your soon-to-be-ex spouse is hiding marital property, so it is usually best to take action quickly. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney can help you discern the best course of action for your unique situation.

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