For decades, when a couple was splitting up and each looked for a New Jersey divorce attorney, the husband usually was the sole breadwinner and his wife might be concerned that he was hiding income and assets from her. But today, many women own their own business or professional practice, or have a high-powered, high-paying career.
So, it is not uncommon for me, as the divorce attorney for men in New Jersey, to hear a concerned husband express a similar fear.
“Jill is an executive at a large company and earns more than I do,” a father mentioned when we had an initial meeting in our Virtual Law Office. “We’ve always kept our finances separate. I have no idea what she does with her bonuses or stock options, and whether she has cash buried in the garden or owns things she’s never mentioned.”
Uncovering Hidden Income and Assets in a New Jersey Divorce
We have tools at our disposal to use when a New Jersey man or father thinks his wife might be hiding income and assets during the divorce. It is an important issue because property settlements and support payments are based on knowing the full financial situation of both the husband and wife.
Even though so much of American life generally and particularly in business and finance is digital, it remains possible to create a paper trail.
Here are five of the many tools we can use to uncover hidden income and assets.
Bank and Investment Records –
If she keeps documents at the house, we encourage men and fathers to look for them and make copies of as many as he can locate. Bank and brokerage house statements and canceled checks can uncover a treasure trove of information. But if she gets mail from financial institutions at her office or they are emailed to her, once we file for divorce, she will be required to make a full financial disclosure. If you suspect she isn’t revealing all, we can ask the court to issue subpoenas which will require banks and brokerage houses to provide documents.
Tax Returns –
Most people are honest when they file their tax return because they fear possible penalties, fines, and perhaps prison. Even if your wife is trying to hide income from you, it is highly unlikely that she will try hiding it from the IRS. If you filed a joint return, you will have copies. If you file separately and cannot locate copies of her returns in your home, we can get copies of them. Again, we can subpoena her bank, brokerage house, and accountant to get copies of returns she has filed. We will look for any inconsistencies in income, the presence of trusts, partnerships, income from a business, and real estate holdings.
Public Documents –
The county records office often can reveal a wealth of financial information about the wife of a man or father in New Jersey. If she has borrowed money, either personally or for her business, the loan application will be on file and include a list of her assets and their estimated value as well as any liabilities she has taken on. County assessors will have records on any property she owns that you do not know about along with its current estimated value.
Credit Reports –
Few men or fathers pay any attention to their credit report unless they are applying for a new credit card, buying a house or car, or making some other large purchase. Still, credit reports are detailed and will offer clues about bank accounts, property and other assets, and loans that your wife may have acquired. There are free websites where you can see your credit report and will enable you to monitor any changes.
Forensic Accountants –
Whether or not your wife owns a business, if we conclude that she is being very clever at hiding assets we can retain a forensic accountant to conduct a detailed investigation into all aspects of her financial life. Forensic accountants are specialists at unraveling money puzzles using a precise, systematic approach. We work with several highly qualified and skilled forensic accountants that we can bring into your divorce case if we think a wife is hiding income or assets.
Divorcing New Jersey Men and Fathers Shouldn’t Take Their Wife’s Word
In my career as a divorce lawyer for men and fathers in New Jersey, I’ve seen some clients make the mistake of taking their spouse’s word about her financial position. Guilt and emotional pain can cause some men to go into denial that gets in the way of a fair divorce settlement.
If you are a man or father in New Jersey who is considering a divorce, or know someone who is, and are concerned that your spouse is hiding assets, the team of family law attorneys at the Micklin Law Group can help.
We are working remotely and in contact with each other and the court thanks to our electronic infrastructure. If you want to talk about your situation and how we can uncover any hidden assets as we negotiate a fair property settlement for you, meet me in our Virtual Law Office or we can discuss your divorce by phone at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620.