New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning that during your divorce your marital assets will be divided in a fair fashion. It’s important to realize that this doesn’t mean that the marital assets will be divided equally. Instead, the court will assess several factors, including contributions and sacrifices made during the marriage as well as financial need and who will have custody of any children from the marriage, in order to make a determination that it thinks is fair.
However, far too often individuals lose out on much needed assets because they fail to ensure that all marital assets are included in the property division process. That might be surprising, but it’s not because a lot of spouses hide marital assets prior to divorce so that they can keep those assets for themselves. Therefore, before you engage in property division settlement negotiations or litigation, you need to know how to spot red flags of hidden assets. Here are some of them:
- Financial control: If your spouse controls marital finances, then you’re at greater risk of being taken advantage of during the property division process. After all, your spouse could hide several assets from you without your knowledge. Make sure you’re doing what’s necessary to gain access to those records so that you can scrutinize them appropriately.
- A sudden change in behavior: If you and your spouse know that divorce is coming and your spouse suddenly becomes controlling of marital finances, then you should be wary. There’s a decent chance that your spouse is trying to stash assets away without your knowledge. Again, make sure that you retain access to those records.
- Unexplained withdrawals: If you notice withdrawals being taken from your joint bank account and there’s no good explanation, then you need to investigate further. Your spouse could be withdrawing that money to stash it away as cash, or he or she could be making large purchases that you’re unaware of.
- Your spouse complains about finances: Many spouses who are engaged in hiding assets try to act like they’re not. This usually takes the form of complaining about not having any money or that money was misspent during the marriage. But if you see your spouse with new assets that seem beyond what he or she can afford, then there’s something suspicious going on that requires additional investigation.
- Business debt: A small business can be quite valuable in a divorce, which is why an accurate valuation is crucial. But claiming false debts against a business is one way to reduce its value and thereby diminish the equitable amount that the other spouse can get out of it. Make sure that you’re being thorough in analyzing the value of a business and not just taking your spouse’s word for it.
- Recent financial records break a pattern: If you do have access to your marital financial records, then you can do some investigation of your own. For example, if your spouse routinely received a yearly bonus at a particular time of year or he or she received a standard raise each year, then you should check your joint bank account for those expected deposits. If they’re not there, then you need to ask why?
Don’t let your spouse cheat you out of what you deserve
Financial fights during divorce can get so ugly that many people give more than they’d like just to get the process over with. If you do that, though, then you could be left at a significant financial disadvantage post-divorce. You shouldn’t let your stress and frustrations get the best of you. Instead, make sure that you’re prepared to enter your property division dispute armed with information that supports your position and a fair outcome. If you’d like to learn more about how to do that, then we encourage you to continue to browse our website.