This is one of the most frequently asked questions in divorce, and one for which there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. There are a number of means available to your attorney to locate assets, through a process collectively known as “discovery.” In the most basic form of discovery, your attorney will demand that your spouse produce documents that identify, or contain information that helps to identify, all assets under your spouse’s ownership or control, including bank accounts or safe deposit boxes your spouse may have opened without your knowledge. Your attorney can subpoena banks, investment firms, and other financial entities to obtain information or documents. Your attorney can analyze tax returns and bank account records to determine whether there are unaccounted-for sources of income or transfers of funds, which can indicate hidden accounts or assets.
Business ownership provides another means for spouses trying to hide assets or money in a divorce. This can involve, for instance, a spouse placing personal assets in the name of a business, if those assets really do not serve a business function; by paying personal expenses through a business account, to conceal income the spouse should be receiving directly; or even by paying other employees money that belongs to the spouse, which the spouse plans to collect after the divorce. To investigate and uncover such schemes, your attorney can search public business records for connections to your spouse, and then subpoena the businesses themselves for financial records. Other methods for locating assets may be to subpoena insurance companies and credit agency reports to determine if your spouse has financial doings of which you are unaware.
Over the years of my practice, I have seen dozens, if not hundreds, of attempts by spouses to hide assets or income. Those schemes are rarely original, and very rarely successful.
Disclaimer: This answer was provided by an attorney selected to Super Lawyers, and is intended to be an educated opinion only. This answer should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.
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