When you or your spouse file for divorce, everything between you will be changed forever. Once your case is commenced, there are rules about how you have to behave towards one another and handle your shared property. What if you suspect that your ex has taken dishonest financial steps in anticipation of the case? In this situation, you may want to know: What can I do if I think my ex is hiding money during a divorce?
Reasons for Hiding Assets
When someone hides money or other community assets, it’s typically because he or she believes that they are more entitled to the money than their partner. Perhaps this belief stems from the fact that their ex had an affair causing the end of the marriage. Perhaps they may think it’s unfair that their spouse stayed home and earned nothing while they were the primary wage earner. Or they might simply be greedy, or fearful of not having enough after the divorce. Whatever the reason the party has for hiding property or funds, absent an extremely compelling excuse, the court will not be sympathetic.
Wisconsin law is clear that both parties are required to fully and honestly disclose all of their assets and debts to one another in an unambiguous manner on a specific form. Someone who elects to deceive the court and their ex will face severe consequences and penalties. The law expressly states, “that complete disclosure of assets and debts is required by law and deliberate failure to provide complete disclosure constitutes perjury.” Further, if a party intentionally or negligently fails to disclose required financial information and an asset with a fair market value of $500 or more is omitted from the “final distribution of property” the injured party can return after the case and ask the court to create “a constructive trust as to all undisclosed assets, for the benefit of the parties and their minor or dependent children.” If the omission is discovered during the case, the injured spouse could end up getting the asset and more of the community property.
Discovery and Investigation
During the case, you and your attorney can use discovery to find out more about what your ex may be concealing. Discovery includes asking for formal factual admissions from the other party that will be admissible in court. You can also compel the production of documents and schedule depositions of witnesses. Your counsel can use these and other tools, as well as the information you provide, to find out more about where your ex may be hiding assets. You can subpoena bank accounts, run credit searches, or hire forensic expenses.