Marriage is seen by law as a “community” where both spouses share equal rights. These include rights to property assets and access rights to financial records and documents. Arizona is a community property state and maintains that property acquired during the marriage, including income and real property, rightfully belongs to the community.
Assets may include the marital home or main residence, vacation property, a business, a professional practice, investments, savings, bank accounts, pension plans, value on life insurance, retirement funds, shares, and many others. Divorcing couples are required by law to disclose all their assets and debts. Despite the law, one or both spouses may lie or deceive to get an unfair amount of the community’s assets for themselves.
How do you find out if your spouse is hiding assets?
These are warning signs that a spouse may be hiding assets during a divorce to avoid dividing them with their ex-spouse. Be suspicious if:
Your spouse becomes tight-lipped about finances
A spouse may become naturally withdrawn and wary during a divorce but don’t accept that behavior when it comes to community assets. Demand a full accounting about all assets if your spouse becomes too secretive about finances. Don’t give in to a tight-lipped spouse.
Your spouse starts deleting programs from your computer
A spouse who generally manages finances can easily hide assets by removing financial software such as QuickBooks from your computer. They may blame the program’s deletion to an unexplainable computer crash, when they had in fact intentionally erased the program from the hard drive.
Your spouse assumes a controlling and defensive behavior
Your spouse could be keeping something from you if they insist on taking complete control of your bank account password and information. They could unexpectedly question your spending but be defensive when you ask the same of them. Someone who isn’t hiding anything won’t be overly defensive and should be willing to disclose whatever they know.
Your spouse becomes generous all of a sudden to family members or friends
If your spouse suddenly becomes too generous during your divorce and gives valuable assets or gifts to family members or friends, it could be a warning sign that they’re trying to hide assets from you. It’s possible that they are keeping these assets from being split during the divorce negotiations and will get them back once the separation is final.
Your spouse makes inexplicable withdrawals or purchases on your joint account
Watch out if your previously thrifty spouse suddenly turns into a big spender overnight. If you notice unusual withdrawals or purchases from your shared bank account, ask your spouse where the money was spent.
Keep a sharp eye on your accounts and regularly monitor them for suspicious transactions. Confront your spouse regarding these unusual bank activities, sending them a message that you won’t be fooled. You can either confront your spouse directly or have a lawyer do the talking for you.
Your spouse engages in frequent activities overseas
Be suspicious and investigate if your spouse makes regular online transactions with a bank overseas or makes frequent trips to countries with slack banking laws.
You or your lawyer can subpoena the bank that you suspect your spouse deals with to receive all transaction records made under your spouse’s name.
Your spouse owns a private mail box
If you find out that your spouse maintains a private mail box or a separate P.O. Box number, they could be getting financial statements without your knowledge.
Failure to disclose financial information in divorce
Trying to find a way to hide some valuable assets during divorce can lead to unpleasant repercussions. A spouse who provides misleading information under oath while being questioned in court can be charged with perjury.
During the divorce process, you and your spouse are required to turn over all of your relevant financial information to the best of your knowledge. Both of you will be required to sign documents stating that you have done so. Providing false information is tantamount to lying under oath and punishable with imprisonment. In several cases, judges have awarded the discovered assets to the other spouse.
What is the penalty for hiding assets in divorce?
A spouse who violates Arizona asset disclosure laws will be ordered to pay a fine. They may also be required to pay lawyer fees for their ex-spouse. Their asset claims can be dropped as well. Finally, a spouse who commits perjury can face criminal charges and sentenced to jail depending on the seriousness of the crime.
Be constantly watchful over your bank information and finance-related activities during a divorce. For your protection, do not assume that your spouse is being truthful about their income and assets.
Find an experienced AZ divorce lawyer
It is vital to take every step necessary to protect what is rightfully yours during the divorce process. By hiring a skillful and experienced Arizona divorce lawyer, hidden assets can be uncovered and you can be assured of a fair treatment in property division.
Contact our qualified family law attorneys at Goldman Law, LLC to help guide you through complex legal issues during the divorce process. Give us a call at (602) 698-5520 or email us through our contact form to schedule a consultation.