When a couple divorces in the State of Washington, each spouse must disclose specifics about their incomes, debts, assets, and properties. If you don’t believe that the spouse you’re divorcing will make an honest disclosure, you’ll need a good Spokane divorce attorney on your side.
When a marriage is in trouble, and a divorce becomes imminent, some people try to hide the wealth. If you’re thinking about hiding assets in a divorce, don’t. The State of Washington requires full financial disclosure, and a good divorce lawyer knows how to find hidden assets.
What Can Marital Assets Include?
The fair and equitable division of marital assets is essential in a divorce, but in many cases, it’s quite challenging to arrive at a fair and equitable division of the marital properties and assets.
Those properties and assets can take many forms including but not limited to:
1. cash, stocks, bonds, and bank accounts
2. IRAs, 401Ks, and other retirement accounts
3. SSDI benefits, pensions, and lawsuit settlements
4. jewelry, vehicles, art items, and household furnishings
5. real estate holdings, assets held in trust, future earnings, and businesses
Honesty is central to a fair division of marital assets in any divorce. But if spouses don’t trust each other – and that’s precisely why many people divorce – how can they know that they will receive their rightful share of a divorce settlement?
If one spouse has secretly moved, hidden, encumbered, or sold marital property or assets without the other partner’s consent or knowledge, the already complex divorce process can become even more confusing and complicated.
What is Required to Begin a Divorce?
To initiate a divorce procedure, a complete disclosure of properties, debts, and assets is required in Washington State so that those assets, properties, and debts can be equitably divided and both divorcing partners can make practical decisions about finances during the divorce process.
Can you trust the spouse you are divorcing to tell the truth? Some spouses may not fully disclose the truth about their assets and properties. If your own spouse doesn’t, you could lose what is legally and rightfully yours.
If your spouse tries to hide assets and properties, can you and your divorce lawyer prove that your partner is lying to the court? Fair settlements require truth. You’ll need legal representation from a divorce lawyer who is substantially experienced at finding hidden assets and properties.
Marital Property vs. Personal Property
Dividing marital properties and assets in the divorce process begins when both spouses have completed the financial disclosure forms. These declarations must account for all of a spouse’s income, properties, assets, debts, and expenses.
Any property obtained during the marriage is usually classified as marital property. Anything that was owned prior to the marriage is usually deemed personal property. It sounds easy, but dividing marital properties fairly and accurately is often quite difficult.
How Can You Protect Your Interests in a Divorce?
Marital properties and assets are split and equitably distributed in a final divorce settlement in this state. How can you protect what is legally and rightfully yours?
If you don’t trust the person you’re divorcing, start some research as soon as possible. If you’re considering or anticipating a divorce, or if your spouse has started the process, protect yourself by taking a full inventory of your own assets before looking with suspicion at your spouse.
Exactly How Do People Try to Hide Marital Assets?
How do people who are divorcing typically try to conceal their assets? Knowing how assets are hidden can help you track them down more successfully. Spouses may overstate debts and expenses, understate incomes, or try to hide assets in one of these ways:
1. denying an asset exists
2. transferring an asset to another party
3. claiming an asset was lost
4. creating phony debt
What Clues Can Indicate That Assets Have Been Hidden?
Some type of paper trail will usually accompany a cover-up of assets. If your spouse took some effort to cover his or her tracks, finding this documentation may not be easy. Your attorney will probably begin by looking at your spouse’s tax returns, as tax returns are relatively easy to find.
Some reported items – and any discrepancies – can raise red flags and help your divorce lawyer uncover hidden assets. What can point to hidden assets? An itemized deduction for property taxes, for example, may indicate the existence of hidden property.
Mortgage closing documents also may contain important information, since lenders require borrowers to list all assets, sources of income, and liabilities when they apply for a mortgage.
Why is a Good Attorney’s Help So Important?
Your divorce lawyer must uncover actual proof of hidden assets before taking the matter to a judge. The possibility that your spouse may be hiding assets is an important reason for making certain that you are represented by the right Spokane divorce attorney.
However crafty or clever a spouse may be about hiding assets, the divorce process has built-in measures to uncover anything that is concealed. If your spouse omitted information in a financial disclosure, your attorney may demand certain documents or request a sworn deposition.
A property dispute in a divorce may concern a business, properties, jewelry, art objects, or even a family pet. Dividing the marital assets, properties, and debts is usually the most daunting aspect of a divorce in this state. Without the right attorney, you could lose a great deal of what is yours.
How Do Divorce Lawyers Find Hidden Assets?
In complex divorces involving high-asset individuals, your attorney may recommend using a forensic accountant to conduct a meticulous analysis of the marital finances. Many lawyers now also use advanced software and other high-tech tools to uncover hidden assets and properties.
Divorcing partners with prenuptial agreements know in advance how assets are to be divided. However, if a prenup is challenged in court, the judge must determine if duress or fraud occurred when it was signed or if either spouse did not make a full financial disclosure at that time.
If you’re considering divorce in the State of Washington, or if your spouse has initiated a divorce, a good attorney will spell out your rights and ensure that you are treated right from the beginning of the divorce process.
In fact. the most important thing to remember about divorcing in this state is that you must be advised and represented from the beginning by an attorney who will protect your rights and fight hard for your long-term best interests. A good lawyer’s help is your right.