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Hidden assets: Is your spouse trying to fool the court?

When you decided to file for divorce, you didn't want the situation to turn into a long, drawn-out courtroom battle. You really just wanted to devise a fair settlement plan and to sign a co-parenting agreement that keeps your children's best interests in mind. Your ultimate goal was to amicably resolve your differences, leave the past behind and move on to help your kids adapt to a new lifestyle.

In a perfect world, that's how all Georgia divorces would unfold. In reality, however, it's often not so, especially if one of the spouses involved is angry or trying to get revenge against the other. Did you recently notice money missing from your jointly owned bank account? There might be a reasonable explanation or your spouse might be trying to hide assets before you enter property division proceedings.

Where to look if you suspect this problem

Many Georgia spouses have dealt with hidden asset problems in divorce. The following list shows ways people often try to carry out such schemes:

  • As mentioned earlier, if you believe your spouse has been making withdrawals from a joint bank account, you have the right to inquire where the money is going. If your spouse gets defensive or you are not satisfied with the answer, you may want to further investigate the situation.
  • Sometimes, a parent will open a bank account for a minor with the hidden intention of siphoning money into the account that he or she is trying to hide until the court finalizes his or her divorce.
  • A thorough review of tax forms is a good place to start to look for hidden assets. By overpaying the Internal Revenue Service, your spouse may be hoping to eventually get the money back as a refund.
  • It's not a bad idea to search dresser drawers, closets, the garage or any other location you think your spouse might hide cash. If someone suddenly opens a post office or safety deposit box, it could definitely be a sign of a hidden asset problem.
  • Another common hidden asset plot is to transfer money to a third party. Did your spouse tell you he or she was giving money to a friend or relative as a loan or to pay back a loan you did not know had transpired?

You should consider each of these issues a red flag if you're headed for property division proceedings and you suspect your spouse is not being fully transparent regarding assets.

What to do if you suspect this problem

Hiding assets in divorce is a nasty, mean-spirited thing to do. It is also illegal, and the judge overseeing your case isn't likely to look favorably on the party who is trying to beat the system. The first logical steps to take to rectify a hidden asset problem are to bring the matter to the court's attention and be ready to show evidence to substantiate your claim.

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