Like most New York parents, one of your highest priorities in life is your children's best interests. This became a central focus when you decided to divorce. The good news is that most kids are adaptable, and with love and support from both parents, they can come to terms with the situation and move on. However, you may not be able to resolve other types of problem issues as easily. For instance, what if you suspect your spouse is not being forthright when it comes to marital assets?
New York is an equitable property state, which means the judge overseeing your divorce will determine a fair split of all property, assets and liabilities that you acquired during marriage. Such division can only be fair if both parties are being honest about what they own. If you think your spouse isn't, you'll want to investigate and perhaps seek the court's intervention.
Denial may be suspect
Has your spouse denied the existence of specific assets that you feel certain he or she possesses? Trying to conceal property to keep it out of property division proceedings is a common tactic many people use when they want to beat the system and gain the upper hand in court.
You can request full disclosure by asking your spouse to present an itemized list of all assets he or she has in possession. If you expect something to be on the list that isn't, you can definitely ask for an explanation.
Is your spouse really paying back a loan?
Pretending to have debt is another way spouses hide assets. If you learn that your spouse has given a large chunk of cash to a family member or friend, this might be the case. When you inquire, if your spouse says he or she is paying back a loan or is lending money to the other person, follow your instincts if you doubt the truth of the statement. Ask more questions.
Often, those hiding assets will ask others to hold money for them until the judge finalizes their divorce. Once that's done, the holder of the money gives it back, but it is no longer subject to property division.
When business owners hide assets
If your spouse owns a business and a string of new names have appeared on the payroll, it could be a clue that you have a hidden asset problem on your hands. Have you met these workers? If not, why? Many asset hiders use ghost employee names to act as though they are issuing them a paycheck, when they're really filtering money into a secret bank account or hiding it in some other way.
What to do
You have a right to obtain a fully disclosed list of assets from your spouse in divorce. If you suspect he or she is hiding something, by all means, investigate. Ask questions, talk to your bank tellers (especially if money is disappearing from a joint account), and take steps to protect your rights so you get all you're entitled to in divorce.