Research shows one of the largest contributors to divorce is financial stress and distrust. Sure, there are studies that point to adultery and abuse as key factors in marriage breakdowns, but money touches everything. For some, that may mean one spouse is a known gambler. For others, it is that one spouse is the saver and the other is a spender. In extreme cases, one feels like the other spouse is hiding money. They cannot quite prove it yet, but there are plenty of red flags.
Hiding money, assets, income, and even debt is a bigger problem in marriages than you think, especially when divorce is on the horizon. It is also illegal. But the burden of proof is often on you to prove your spouse is hiding money.
Here are 6 tips to help you figure out if your spouse is hiding money:
Gather all of your household financial information
This is a logical first step because you are essentially getting everything organized to analyze effectively. It is also an important exercise for spouses who are not normally the ones in control of paying bills and need to familiarize themselves with everything. By financial information, I mean bank accounts and the corresponding statements, credit card statements, investment accounts, personal and business tax returns, health savings statements, retirement account information, paystubs, etc. It is essential that you see a paystub so you can see if all your spouse’s income is being deposited into an account you know of.
Look for anything that looks odd
Through this fact-finding mission, you may find that your spouse is not doing anything wrong after all. You could also find some pretty interesting information. This could be as simple as a credit card you did not know existed that is only in your spouse’s name. It could also be numerous big cash withdrawals, unknown purchases that were not discussed in advance, random transfers between accounts, or overpayments to a credit card. You do not have to be a financial wizard to notice certain transactions do not add up. Write it all down, including dollar amounts, dates, account numbers, etc.
Check online activity
Many times, answers to your spouse’s curious actions are hiding in plain sight online. It could be their list of favorites or just a random Internet history. Most financial accounts these days offer online access, which also helps if you are missing a bank or credit card statement and need help filling in the missing pieces. There could also be online-only accounts such as PayPal that slipped through the cracks in your initial search.
Watch the mail
If you still think your spouse is hiding money, another tip is to pay attention to the mail. New bank account and credit card information could just as easily show up randomly in the mailbox, and this is your opportunity to lay eyes on them before your spouse has a chance to hide them.
Ask your CPA
Seeking help from an expert who knows your finances inside and out, such as your CPA or financial advisor, will help you figure out if your concerns are all in your head or if your spouse truly is hiding money. If the situation is dire, you could reach out to additional resources such as private investigators and forensic accountants.
Talk to your spouse
This is the hard part, especially if you find that your suspicions are true. The key is not to go into attack mode but rather calmly present the evidence and allow your spouse an opportunity to explain. It could be that they have been hiding money for a specific reason that is completely justifiable. But if you have written everything down ahead of time, you will be able to tell if they are lying and need to be pressed for more information.
There is no handbook for these difficult situations. If you feel that your spouse is hiding money, the best advice is to educate yourself about the household finances, find concrete evidence, and look for ways to have a healthy and open conversation with your spouse. If the situation cannot be resolved, you have already gathered enough information to protect yourself financially in the event of a nasty divorce.
Call Nelson Law Group today!!
Hiding money in a marriage — or even during a divorce — is wrong. If you suspect this is happening, you need to take action and do some heavy lifting before confronting your spouse or talking to your lawyer. If divorce is the answer, you need a trusted advisor to guide you through each stage of your divorce and help you deal with the stress that naturally comes with that. We work diligently to achieve a result that ensures you receive what you are entitled to as you move forward onto the next stage of your life. The Nelson Law Group brings nearly two decades of experience in family law to each and every case.
Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC, a call if you have any further questions regarding this or any other issue. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A Nelson, click here.