One way to ensure your post-divorce life is financially secure is to obtain a full and fair share of assets during property division. New York is an equitable division state, which means you and your spouse will split your joint assets fairly, though not necessarily equally. The court will consider many factors when dividing your assets and debts, but to do this, it must have full disclosure of assets from both parties.
If you suspect your spouse is not being truthful about the amount or value of assets he or she has disclosed, you may want to investigate further. A spouse who fails to disclose all marital assets for property division is in violation of the law, and you have every right to seek out the assets your ex may be hiding from you.
Using tax forms to find assets
Creating an inventory of your joint assets, including investments, real estate, retirement accounts and other funds, is something you should do as soon as you realize divorce is imminent. One place to begin is your past tax returns. By comparing returns from the past few years, you may be able to notice discrepancies that point to hidden assets. For example:
- Did your spouse itemize deductions for taxes on property you did not know your spouse owned?
- Did your spouse list interest or dividends from undisclosed investments?
- Are there investments you thought you jointly owned that are suddenly missing from recent tax returns?
- Do recent tax returns suddenly include capital gains or losses from ventures about which your spouse did not tell you?
- Did your spouse include information on tax forms related to supplemental income or losses from real estate rent, partnerships or other undisclosed sources?
A spouse who is hiding assets may use a safe deposit box or an in-home safe to keep cash, deeds or other documents. You may find information about additional valuables if your spouse recently applied for a mortgage and included a list of assets and liabilities on the application.
It is possible that your spouse is using other, more sophisticated means for hiding assets from you, such as offshore accounts. He or she may be using business interests to mask personal assets. Finding and valuating these assets may require professional resources and even forensic accounting, but this may be a critical step in achieving your fair share of marital property. With so much at stake, you would be wise to seek experienced assistance with these delicate legal matters.