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Undergoing a separation or divorce can impact all areas of your life. From your mental health to your family’s day-to-day activities, the process has the potential to cause a lot of stress. Emotions can get in the way, sometimes making these proceedings more difficult than one may have initially anticipated.

Unfortunately, in some instances, spouses may put their personal interests first and may not fully disclose all their assets and liabilities. If you suspect that your spouse might be hiding assets, it may be useful to familiarize yourself with what indicators to look for, and what steps to take next.

This article serves as a general exploration of family law and is not meant to provide legal counsel. If you require guidance on divorce or separation matters in Ontario, we suggest arranging a consultation with a family lawyer in Ontario. Feel free to contact us at Gelman & Associates to schedule a consultation today.

Full Disclosure Is Mandatory

When dividing assets, there are guidelines to follow which are also known as the equalization of net family property. In an ideal divorce or separation, both parties would amicably work together to establish a fair division of assets. However, that is not always the case. In some situations, one party may not fully disclose all their assets in order to make their side of the equation smaller.

It is against the law to not disclose all your assets to the other party when going through a separation or divorce. Neither party can hide or deplete any assets. If you suspect your spouse or partner may be hiding assets, we recommend you consult with a divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

What Could be Considered a Hidden Asset?

Unfortunately, there are many ways in which someone might hide assets or funds. For example, they could disguise the asset’s ownership by transferring them to a relative or friend. Some hide funds in offshore accounts, safety deposit boxes, or by “repaying a loan” to someone that was never initially issued. A hidden asset could also simply be an undervalued one, disguised through unappraised items. Undisclosed money could also be hidden through large purchases, like property or vehicles.

It may be more difficult to discern if your spouse is hiding assets if he/she manages the household finances, operates a business that you have no part in, has inherited family assets, or has expenses and debts that intermingle with corporate accounts for tax reasons.

Signs of Hidden Assets

The signs of hidden assets may vary from each situation. However, there are some potential indications to look out for if you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets. These may include:

  • Conducting many transactions in cash
  • New or unexpected withdrawals, or the moving of money from shared bank accounts
  • Giving large loans to business partners, family members, or friends
  • Sudden changes in spending patterns
  • A lifestyle that you believe to be more excessive or costly than what has been reported or stated on a tax return
  • Financial abuse
  • And more

Because income can be obtained in many ways, an asset could be concealed by not reporting income gained through employment, pensions, investments, or rental properties. By looking at a spouse’s previous tax returns or requesting credit card or loan applications, you and your family lawyer may be able to identify any sources of income that have gone unreported.

Contact us at Gelman & Associates today to schedule a consultation.

Steps to Take to Uncover Hidden Assets

It is illegal to hide assets during a divorce. Your lawyer may notice suspicious activity and bring it to your attention at some point during the divorce or separation process. In contrast, if you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets from their financial disclosure, inform your family lawyer as soon as possible.

Together, you may decide to reach out to a professional who can undergo a thorough examination of all liabilities and assets, such as a forensic accountant or investigator. In any situation, it will help you to collect as much information and documentation as possible. Your lawyer may ask the court to issue an Order, requesting that the other party disclose certain assets.

Are the Assets Worth Uncovering?

Oftentimes, uncovering hidden assets is a time-consuming process. A person may go to great lengths to hide them, which can lead to a complicated and expensive investigation.

Even though it is illegal and morally wrong to hide assets, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of uncovering them. Consider if the asset’s value is worth the time and money necessary to uncover them. Contact a family lawyer at Gelman & Associates who will keep your best interests in mind and help you make these big decisions.

Take Preventative Measures

There are precautions you can take to better prepare yourself against a spouse that may be hiding assets during a divorce or separation. First, it is essential that you stay involved and up-to-date on the financial happenings of your family unit over the course of your marriage or relationship. If you are already familiar with your spouse’s typical spending/saving habits, along with the regular ins and outs of your joint bank accounts, then it will be easier to spot a discrepancy should it arise.

If you discover any major expenses that were initially kept hidden from you over the course of your marriage, gather any information you can. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity or uncharacteristically sporadic purchases.

Speak to a professional as soon as you suspect that your spouse has not disclosed all assets. They will be able to suggest the next steps you can take.

Contact Us Today to Book a Consultation 

When going through a separation or divorce, you are legally responsible to report all your assets and liabilities. By doing so, your lawyers will be able to establish an equalization of net family property and also determine spousal support, parenting plans and decision making responsibilities.

If you suspect that your ex-partner or soon-to-be ex is withholding information or hiding assets, contact Gelman & Associate today to schedule a free consultation. Our dedicated family lawyers offer tailored support suited to the needs of each individual client.

Disclaimer: For specific legal advice on your family law matter, please consult with a family law lawyer. The content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and is instead intended to act as a general overview of a legal topic.

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