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2 tips to investigate hidden assets in your divorce

You and your spouse joined financial forces from the moment you said, "I do." This means that every dollar you and your spouse earned after getting married becomes a part of the marital estate. It doesn't matter if you were earning $8 an hour as a server at a restaurant and your spouse was earning $100,000 as a bank manager. Both of your incomes should be merged together as your larger marital income. The same goes for debts and other assets and property acquired during the course of your marriage.

Unless, of course, your spouse is unlawfully hiding marital assets from you to keep them for him or herself. If you think your spouse is hiding assets, here's what you can do to get to the bottom of it:

Take your discovery process seriously

During the discovery process of your divorce, your spouse will need to voluntarily disclose assets, income and liabilities. He or she will also be subject to involuntary disclosures in response to you and your attorney's information requests. Scrutinize these disclosures closely and follow up on anything that doesn't add up. Then, consider deposing your spouse under oath.

Evaluate tax liabilities carefully

\One sneaky trick that spouses try to pull on each other in divorces involves the hiding of tax liabilities. Imagine you have two $10,000 paintings in your art collection. Twenty years ago, when you purchased the paintings, however, one cost $1,000 and the other cost $20,000. This means that one painting will trigger capital gains tax liabilities while the other one can be entered on your taxes as a loss. These tax issues must be considered when dividing property so be sure you consult with both a tax accountant and your appraiser to accurately calculate the true value of all the property in your marital estate.

Barring certain types of exempt property, the assets you and your spouse acquired during your marriage will be lumped together and divided as a part of the asset division process of your divorce. If you think your spouse has hidden assets from you during your family law proceedings, take appropriate legal action immediately.

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