In North Carolina, the couple has to be separated for a full year before they can file for divorce. This allows a lot of time for a spouse to think about how property and assets will be divided and what spousal support could cost. In consideration of divorce, the spouse who is the primary source of income for the family may take steps to separate money from the joint account or even actively hide assets from the other spouse.
North Carolina divorce law provides for equitable distribution of assets and when one spouse is hiding assets, the other spouse is not getting the equitable treatment they deserve. If your spouse is hiding assets or you discover your ex did not report their assets during a divorce, talk to your North Carolina family law attorney about your options to make sure you get what you are owed in a divorce.
Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets?
Unless you start looking for signs of hidden assets, you may never suspect your spouse is doing anything wrong. The purpose of hiding assets in a divorce is specifically to keep the other spouse in the dark in an attempt to reduce alimony payments or property distribution. There may be a number of ways one party seeks to hide money, property, or other assets before a divorce, including:
- Open a separate bank account in only one party's name;
- Not reporting a bonus, reimbursement, or increase in salary;
- Putting money into the accounts of a family member;
- Direct deposit into separate accounts;
- Opening a safety deposit box;
- Buying jewelry, antiques, jewelry, or other collectibles;
- Undervaluing business assets;
- Claiming fake debts or expenses; or
- Contributions to an undisclosed benefits plan.
An Affair May Also Mean Secret Bank Accounts
It can be shocking for a spouse to find out about an affair. However, an affair may also be a sign that the spouse is taking marital property to spend on another person. This may include payments to the other person, expensive gifts, rent payments, and vacations. This may also indicate prior affairs and multiple attempts to hide money from the family accounts.
Discovering Hidden Assets During a Divorce
Even if you suspect your spouse may be putting away money, extra income, or skimming money off of your accounts for another use, it can be difficult to discover. In contemplation of a divorce, a couple may not be communicating very well and an indication that you suspect some deceptive behavior can result in fights or other accusations. It may also make the individual take additional steps to hide any hidden accounts or payments.
The simplest way to discover hidden money may be to contact your North Carolina family law attorney. Your attorney can investigate your spouse's finances to discover any suspicious activity. Your attorney can also advise you on your options and steps you can take to protect your assets and property.
You may be able to search your home for signs of hidden accounts or income by looking for any accounts or holdings you do not recognize. Some possible red flags or signs that a spouse is hiding money may include:
- Changes in handling money and budgets,
- Being secretive about online activities,
- Changes in spending habits,
- Changing account information for banks, investments, and benefits accounts, and
- Increasing concern over money issues.
Discovering Hidden Assets After Divorce is Finalized
Unfortunately, many people do not find out about financial deception until after the divorce is finalized. The former spouse may feel like there is nothing they can do after the settlement agreement has been entered. However, you may be able to seek a modification of any divorce orders if the information is based on fraud.
Knowingly hiding assets, underreporting finances, and failing to report property can be a basis for changing property division and alimony orders. It may also be the basis for other sanctions by the court. For example, if the former spouse lied during a deposition, the court may hold the individual in contempt or sanction them with perjury.
The judge may also increase the allocation of property or assets when the other spouse was found to be lying about money or property. The court may require the lying ex-spouse to turn over the entire amount of hidden assets or money. Talk to your North Carolina divorce attorney about your options for modifying an award after discovering hidden assets.
North Carolina Family Law in Shelby
At Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC, we have represented spouses in Shelby, Gaston County, and across North Carolina to get their rightful property distribution and alimony support. Contact us today for a consultation.