Going through a divorce is challenging under any circumstances, but if you suspect your spouse is hiding assets or property that should be divided fairly, the divorce process becomes even more stressful and complicated.
You don’t have to face those challenges on your own. An experienced attorney can conduct an investigation and also leverage legal methods – such as requesting specific financial documents – to help you identify any assets or property that your spouse has failed to disclose.
Dividing Property in Divorce
Dividing property in a Maryland divorce can be done a couple of different ways. For example, a court can grant a divorce by mutual consent, meaning the parties’ control how to divide their property. Many prefer this over going to court and having a judge decide who gets what.
However, if parties cannot agree, then the court will decide how the marital assets should be divided, and state law — not the parties’ wishes — will control how a judge makes those decisions.
Maryland is an “equitable distribution” state. Equitable distribution does not mean equal. Instead, Maryland law requires marital assets to be divided fairly and to promote balance between the divorcing parties. So, for many reasons, one spouse may get more marital assets than the other spouse.
How Are Assets Accounted for in a Divorce
Before you can divide your property, you must inventory all of your assets. For property division purposes, your assets will be considered either:
- Marital property;
- Non-marital property; or
- Other property (i.e., co-mingled property).
How your property is defined is important when a court decides who gets what in the divorce.
Marital property is generally property acquired during your marriage — no matter how it is titled or who paid for it.
Non-marital property is generally property that you or your spouse acquired before your marriage, from an inheritance, or as a gift from a third party.
Other property may include things like co-mingled property, that is, property that may have started out as your property before you married but became marital property (in part) after you married.
For an equitable division of marital property, all assets must be identified. But some spouses try to hide assets.
Signs That Your Spouse May Be Hiding Assets
Hiding assets from spouses is not uncommon. A survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education revealed that two in five adults admitted to financial infidelity against their spouse or partner, including hiding a purchase, bank account, statement, bill, or cash.
Finding out if your spouse is hiding assets may require a forensic accountant’s expertise, but there are warning signs you should know about. Here is a list of five signs your spouse may be hiding assets:
- You notice changes in your spouse’s banking practices after years of consistent and predictable activity.
- Your spouse asks you to sign financial documents without explanation or time to review them.
- You see documents from unfamiliar financial institutions.
- Your spouse is giving gifts of cash or other assets to family members.
- Your spouse owns a business, and you notice unexpected business expenses or an unaccounted-for loss in profits.
How a Divorce Attorney Can Help
Dividing property equitably in a divorce raises issues that will impact you today and well into your future. It requires an experienced attorney on your side to help you get what is fair — and find assets your spouse may be hiding from you.
Maryland courts particularly recommend you consult with a lawyer if you or your spouse:
- Own significant property;
- Have a pension or other retirement accounts; or
- Own a business.
A qualified attorney can spearhead an asset search investigation to help determine if your spouse has assets that aren’t being accounted for. Your attorney can also leverage legal processes that can help them obtain information about potential hidden assets. For example, an attorney can:
- Demand documents, such as tax returns, loan applications, and banking records
- Request testimony under oath
- Request that your spouse answer interrogatories, or written questions
- Make inspection demands, such as demanding electronic records, certain properties, or a safe deposit box
Why Choose The McKeon Law Firm?
The Gaithersburg family lawyers at The McKeon Law Firm have extensive experience finding hidden assets and navigating Maryland’s equitable distribution laws. For help evaluating your rights and protecting your assets, contact us online or call (301)417-9222 or (202) 742-1800 to schedule a consultation.