From time to time, I tell a new client that there are some things in their life they do not need to disclose in a divorce if their wife doesn’t know about them. An extra-marital affair is an example. But one thing I tell every client regardless of the reasons behind the breakdown of a marriage: Do not ever try hiding income or assets during the divorce process.
For one thing, it is fairly easy for investigators working with your ex’s attorney to locate things you’re convinced are well hidden. For another, judges become furious if they discover that you have knowingly concealed either some of your income or part of your assets that will have a bearing on the property division or the size of child support and spousal maintenance payments. Attorneys learn early on in law school that bad things always happen when you make a judge angry.
The reality is that you are legally required to fully disclose all of your income and assets during a divorce. If you are discovered, you may be charged with perjury – a felony – and sent to prison.
Money, Men, Fathers and Divorce
As a lawyer representing men and fathers getting divorced in New Jersey, I recognize and understand that money always is a central issue between splitting spouses.
I also understand that the temptation may be strong. I also know from experience that it is most-likely to backfire.
Historically, it has been the man who tries to hide his income or conceal some of his assets. But what I see happening now as a growing number of women have high paying careers is that may attempt to conceal income or assets, or understate the value of either.
Today, thanks to the internet and social media, it is very difficult to hide assets in a way that an investigator won’t find it. Just as helpful is that spouses who try hiding assets usually make mistakes. This makes it much simpler to uncover their unlawful concealment.
How We Find What a Wife May Be Hiding
Frequently, a client strongly suspects his spouse may be hiding either part of her income – such as asking an employer not to pay her bonus until after the divorce – or assets such as real estate she inherited from her parents while married. But they may not know what or how much is hidden.
If the wife owns a successful business, she may conceal part of its income by purchasing high value assets for the office such as art work that is put in a reception room, replacing computers years before the end of their useful life or even buying elaborate coffee and espresso makers for the break room.
Phony invoices from non-existent suppliers might be fabricated to reduce the amount of actual net income of the business as well as understating the value of an inventory.
She might purchase jewelry that is kept in a safe deposit box rather than at home, acquired property or opened a bank account in an offshore location – think Panama Papers – and stashed away cash temporarily rather than putting it into a 401(k) or Keogh Plan.
But as an experience New Jersey lawyer for men and fathers, we have tools that can shine a light on assets tucked in a dark closet.
- Demand documents be produced. We can send a letter to your spouse’s attorney requesting that documents such as tax returns, financial statements, loan applications and bank account records be given to us. If they refuse, we can seek a court order from a judge.
- Submit written questions. We submit a list of specific questions for your wife to answer and sign as truthful. Her answers become part of the court record.
- Inspections. We can ask a court for an order allowing our investigators to inspect her business, open her safe deposit box and look at other tangible assets.
- Conduct a deposition. This is where I question your wife under oath and the proceedings are recorded by a court reporter. If she lies under oath, she can be cited for perjury.
The discover process is a good way of uncovering financial information. If she or her lawyer refuse to honor a court order, they can be sanctioned by the court with fines and even a judgement against her on a specific issue.
Help is Available
As divorce attorneys whose practice focuses on representing men and fathers in New Jersey, we have had success in uncovering assets and income you think your spouse is hiding.
If you – or a man you know – is contemplating a divorce and are concerned your spouse may be hiding assets, feel free to call me or any of the attorneys at the Micklin Law Group ,family law firm for men in New Jersey. Reach us at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620. For more query you can also read our divorce guide.