When a marriage falls apart, couples are supposed to fully disclose all their holdings to each other so that a fair split of the marital assets can be decided.
Unfortunately, your spouse may be determined to send you on a treasure hunt, forcing you to hunt down the assets that he or she has hidden away. If you believe that your spouse (or ex-spouse) is concealing money so that he or she can avoid sharing them or paying adequate support, what can you do?
Before you reach for the phone number of a private investigator, however, see what you can uncover on your own. Frequently, you can find all the information you need close at hand. You just need to dig into the financial papers you have from previous years and start looking at them closely.
Old tax returns, in particular, can offer a ton of useful information. Look for:
Your spouse may have rental property that you aren’t even aware exists. You can find information about rental real estate on the Schedule E of your old tax returns.
Partnerships and S Corporations
Your spouse or ex-spouse may have money coming in from one or more companies that you don’t recognize, particularly if he or she is a silent partner. Again, the Schedule E is where you need to look for that kind of information.
Schedule B of your old tax returns may help you find money that’s hidden offshore. If your spouse has a considerable net worth, don’t be surprised if there are bank accounts or trusts sitting in banks outside the United States. Some spouses try hard to shelter these accounts from their divorce proceedings, hoping they’ll get overlooked.
Often, all you need to shorten your search for missing money is a start. Those old tax returns can also be valuable in court — they may help compel your spouse to be more forthcoming with the information you need to obtain a fair division of the marital property.