Many spouses hide assets from one another during or leading up to divorce. There could be some serious consequences if your spouse gets caught doing this during a formal discovery process.
Unfortunately, by the time your divorce gets to court, your spouse may have already had ample opportunity thoroughly hide assets or destroy records. That is why a proactive approach is usually wise.
What is subject to division?
As explained on FindLaw, asset division typically goes well beyond tangible valuables, such as cars, houses and so on. It includes most joint assets you would have developed with your spouse over the course of your marriage, such as retirement accounts, employment benefits and nearly every other type of investment. Even if only one of you made the decision to invest, a given item would probably still be a marital asset.
Some of these on-paper holdings are relatively difficult to hide. For example, a joint banking account that both of you have access to would probably not be anything you have to worry about. Others might require preemptive action if you want to make sure your divorce agreement includes them in their entirety. Specifically, you may want to follow up on suspicions or search records for assets that are unknown to you.
Where do people hide assets?
Because these assets are usually not tangible, they do not always have a physical location. However, evidence of them could hide in plain sight. For example, your spouse might keep account numbers, disclosures or paper statements in a filing cabinet in your home.
Other assets could hide in your household’s balance sheets. For example, there could be evidence of surreptitious purchases of securities, art pieces, collectibles or jewelry in large discrepancies between earnings, losses, expenses and current account levels.
In general, the assets your spouse is most likely to hide from you during divorce would be the assets that you do not yet know about. Letting this idea guide your initial search could be a good overall strategy. You may also want to consider using forensic accounting if suspicions remain after you look yourself.