What if My Spouse is Hiding Assets or Income?

Divorce, an emotional and challenging process, is further complicated when there’s a suspicion that your spouse is hiding assets. This underhanded tactic, aimed at reducing the division of marital property and potentially limiting spousal support or child support, can leave you feeling betrayed and worried about your financial future.

At WSM, we understand the anxieties surrounding divorce and the division of assets. Our team is dedicated to guiding you through this complex process, ensuring you’re empowered with knowledge and the confidence to fight for your rights. Remember, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. We’re here to assist and protect your interests every step of the way.

Contact us today for a free consultation at 380-212-3731, and let us help you transition into a brighter life.

Understanding Marital and Separate Property 

One of the first steps in ensuring a fair division of assets in a divorce is to understand the difference between marital property and separate property. In the simplest terms, marital property (also known as joint or community property) comprises all assets acquired during the marriage. This can include bank accounts, retirement accounts, houses, and other assets, regardless of which spouse’s name is on the title.

On the other hand, separate property refers to assets that one spouse owned prior to the marriage, inheritances received by one spouse alone, gifts to one spouse from a third party, and personal injury awards.

However, the distinction between marital and separate property can become blurred, for instance, when a separate property appreciates in value during the marriage or is commingled with marital property. Additionally, any property defined as separate in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement will also be treated as separate property.The laws guiding the division of these properties also vary from state to state.


In Ohio and Indiana, the courts follow an equitable distribution model, meaning that marital property is divided in a fair but not necessarily equal way. On the other hand, Michigan, as a community property state, typically divides marital property equally between spouses. In Texas, the community property system is used for dividing marital assets and debts in a divorce. Under community property laws, all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is generally considered community property and is subject to a 50-50 division upon divorce. This includes income earned, assets purchased, and debts incurred during the marriage.


Understanding these concepts and the laws specific to your state is crucial when facing a divorce process where the other spouse might be concealing assets.

Recognizing the Signs of Hidden Assets

It’s distressing to suspect that your spouse is hiding assets during a divorce, but knowing the signs can assist in uncovering any concealed wealth. Some common indicators include:

  • Sudden changes in financial behavior – If your spouse has suddenly become secretive about financial matters, or there’s a noticeable change in spending habits, these may be red flags. They may suddenly insist on handling all financial documents or become defensive when you ask about financial affairs.
  • Unusual bank account activity – Frequent large withdrawals, unexplained transfers, or new bank accounts you were not aware of can be warning signs. Regularly reviewing bank statements and other financial statements can help you identify these activities.
  • Missing financial documents – If financial documents such as tax returns or business financial statements are missing or have been removed from your home, this could indicate that your spouse is hiding assets.
  • Unexpected generosity – If your spouse is giving unusually large gifts to family members or friends, they may be attempting to reduce their assets on paper. This might be done with the expectation that the family member or friend will return the money after the divorce is finalized.

Methods Spouses Use to Hide Assets

Understanding the techniques used to hide assets can equip you with the necessary tools to detect any financial discrepancies. Here are some methods spouses often use:

  • Concealing cash – Your spouse may hide cash in places you wouldn’t typically check, such as a safe deposit box, or in the form of traveler’s checks.
  • Transferring money to family members or friends – Money may be temporarily transferred to family members or friends with the understanding that it will be returned after the divorce.
  • Opening a custodial account – A spouse may use a child’s social security number to open a custodial account, hiding money under the child’s name.
  • Underreporting income or overreporting debts – In business settings, a spouse may manipulate financial records to show lowered income or exaggerated debts. They may also defer salary, bonuses, or contracts until after the divorce.
  • Purchasing items of high value – Purchasing items that can be overlooked or undervalued, like art, jewelry, or antiques, can serve as a way of tying up money that can later be resold.

Remember, these actions are not only unethical but also illegal and can carry severe penalties. An experienced attorney and a forensic accountant can help uncover these hidden assets and ensure a fair division.

The Role of a Forensic Accountant in Finding Hidden Assets

In complex divorce cases where there’s a suspicion of hidden assets, a forensic accountant can prove invaluable. These professionals specialize in investigating financial discrepancies and fraudulent activities, and their expertise goes beyond regular accounting duties.

Here’s how a forensic accountant can assist during a divorce:

  • Examining financial records – A forensic accountant meticulously reviews financial records, bank accounts, and financial statements to identify inconsistencies that may indicate concealed assets. They are trained to spot signs that may go unnoticed by others.
  • Investigating tax returns – A careful review of tax returns can often provide clues to hidden assets. Undisclosed income may appear as overpaid taxes, which could result in a larger tax refund later.
  • Locating hidden assets – Whether it’s an undeclared retirement account, investment, or properties bought under a family member’s name, forensic accountants use their expertise to find hidden assets. They can trace transactions, review account details, and find evidence of any assets that your spouse owns but has failed to disclose.
  • Valuation of assets – Forensic accountants can provide an accurate valuation of assets, including businesses and property acquired during the marriage, ensuring a fair division.

What Are the Legal Remedies If a Spouse Is Caught Hiding Assets?

Hiding assets during a divorce proceeding is considered fraudulent activity, and courts do not take this lightly. Here’s what can happen if a spouse is caught hiding assets:

  • Restitution and recalculating asset division – If hidden assets are discovered, the court can order the offending spouse to pay restitution. The court may also recalculate the division of assets to reflect the newly discovered assets.
  • Sanctions and penalties – The spouse caught hiding assets can face sanctions, including fines or penalties, from the court.
  • Impact on custody and support orders – Dishonesty about financial status can also affect child support, alimony, and even custody decisions, as it impacts the court’s perception of a spouse’s character.
  • Perjury charges – In some cases, if a spouse has signed a financial affidavit that is later found to be false, they can be charged with perjury.

The divorce discovery process allows for thorough investigation into each spouse’s assets. This process, often guided by your divorce attorney, helps ensure transparency and fair dealing in property division. If you suspect your spouse is concealing assets, it’s important to bring this to the attention of your attorney as soon as possible. Remember, the ultimate goal is to secure a divorce settlement that accurately reflects the financial reality of your marriage and supports your future financial security.

Impact of Hidden Assets on Child  and Spousal Support 

Understanding the complete financial picture of both spouses is critical in divorce proceedings, particularly when it comes to determining child support and spousal support or alimony payments. When assets or income are hidden, it disrupts the balance of this financial landscape and can lead to unfair arrangements.

Child support and alimony calculations are primarily based on each spouse’s income and financial resources. When one party conceals assets, they essentially create an inaccurate portrayal of their financial status. This could result in lower child support or alimony payments than what should rightfully be awarded.

For example, if a spouse owns a thriving business but downplays its value or hides certain assets linked to the business, the court might assess their income to be lower than it actually is. This can drastically impact the amount of child support or alimony the other spouse receives.

Courts take a very dim view of this behavior. If hidden assets are discovered after a child support or alimony agreement has been finalized, courts have the authority to adjust the payments retrospectively. This might also lead to legal consequences for the spouse who hid the assets, ranging from financial penalties to, in severe cases, criminal charges for fraud.

Prevention Measures to Stop Asset Hiding Before It Starts

Prevention is always better than a cure. Therefore, maintaining financial transparency is a crucial preventative measure to stop asset hiding before it starts. Being proactive and informed about your family’s financial status can put you in a stronger position, whether you anticipate a divorce or not.

One prevention measure is to ensure regular access to all financial documents, such as bank statements, tax returns, retirement account statements, and any financial records related to jointly owned businesses or properties. Familiarizing yourself with these records gives you a solid understanding of your family’s financial status.

Taking an active role in large financial decisions or changes is another preventative step. This can deter your spouse from making unilateral financial moves that could potentially lead to hiding assets. If a large amount of money is suddenly transferred to a family member or a significant amount of cash is withdrawn from a joint account, for instance, this could be a red flag that assets are being concealed.

Remember, it’s your right to have equal access to all joint financial documents and information. Staying informed and proactive about your financial status is an important step in protecting your financial future.

WSM Can Help Ensure a Fair Division of Assets

Navigating a divorce is challenging, and suspicions of a spouse hiding assets can make it even more so. This is where the experienced team at WSM steps in. Our legal team is dedicated to standing up for women’s rights and ensuring a fair division of marital assets.

  • Comprehensive financial analysis – We diligently analyze all financial documents, from bank statements to tax returns, to uncover any discrepancies or signs of hidden assets.
  • Forensic accounting services – We collaborate with skilled forensic accountants when necessary, to probe deeper into complex financial situations and ensure all assets are accounted for.
  • Expert legal guidance – Our attorneys will guide you through the divorce process, keeping your financial interests at the forefront. We provide guidance on the divorce discovery process, the role of a forensic accountant, and what constitutes marital and separate property.
  • Advocacy and support – More than just your legal team, we’re your advocates, offering compassionate support as you transition into your new life. At WSM, we understand the challenges women face during divorce, and we are here to help you overcome them.

Hidden Assets or Income FAQ’s

  1. In addition to analyzing bank statements and tax returns for discrepancies, you may also look into the existence of safety deposit boxes, review credit card statements for unknown purchases, or check for property deeds in your spouse’s name. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney or a forensic accountant can significantly assist you in this process.

Spouses may try to underreport income, overstate debts, or transfer assets to a third party, often a close friend or family member. Other common methods used to hide assets include:

  • Temporarily transfer assets to a business or create phony debts.
  • Open a custodial account using a child’s social security number.
  • Wait to make significant business deals until after the divorce is final to reduce their apparent income.
  • “Invest” in artwork, collectibles, or cryptocurrencies. Remember, these methods are not only unethical but also illegal.

Financial assets include more than just cash in bank accounts. They also encompass investments such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, retirement accounts like 401(k)s or IRAs, pension plans, life insurance cash value, real estate properties, business interests, and even expected tax refunds.

Separate property typically includes any property owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, inheritances received by one spouse alone, gifts specifically given to one spouse, and any property acquired after a legal separation. It generally remains separate and is not divided during a divorce. However, increases in the value of separate property during the marriage may be considered marital property and subject to division.

The best thing you can do is bring your concerns to your divorce attorney who can help you determine the next steps. They will help you to gather evidence that might indicate hidden income. They may also consult a forensic accountant to review the financial documents and find discrepancies.

If hidden assets are discovered after the divorce settlement, you may have legal recourse. Courts may adjust the financial settlement, child support, or alimony payments retroactively. The spouse who concealed assets may also face penalties, including fines or, in severe cases, criminal charges for fraud. It’s critical to consult with a family law attorney if you discover hidden assets after your divorce.

Unmasking Hidden Assets – Empowerment through Transparency

Divorce is a journey of separation and new beginnings. It is a time that calls for transparency, especially when it comes to the division of assets. Understanding your marital property, being alert to signs of hidden assets, and knowing the steps to unmask such concealments are all part of protecting your rights.

At WSM, we’re committed to guiding you through this journey with legal advice, steadfast support, and dedication. We believe in empowering women to fight for their rights and secure a fair divorce settlement. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, remember that you are not alone in this process.

Let us fight for your financial security as you embark on your new path.

Arrange a free consultation at 380-212-3731.