November 11, 2021
For a fair divorce settlement or judgment, each spouse deserves an accurate picture of the other spouse’s estate. That includes income, personal assets, and real property. Otherwise, an inadequate amount of spousal maintenance or child support might be ordered.
Arizona law requires parties in a divorce case to complete a financial affidavit. This form requires spouses to list just about every financial detail that may be relevant. However, these requirements alone do not guarantee that every spouse will comply. Spouses going through a divorce often go to great lengths to conceal assets while the case is pending. Here are some ways it’s done.
1. Withdrawing money from retirement accounts.
Retirement accounts, pensions, 401(k)s—all of these are subject to property division in an Arizona divorce. Some spouses will take money out of these accounts and invest the money in something undetectable to the other spouse. Many people will do this despite the penalty that must be paid for early withdrawals.
2. Signing promissory notes to a close friend or family member.
A promissory note is a written promise that signifies a debtor’s intent to pay back money that was loaned. This is common practice for mortgages and other loans from financial institutions. Debtors occasionally use promissory notes when they borrow from a personal source, but your spouse doing so should raise your antenna for fraud.
3. Depositing a portion of income to a separate bank account.
Many couples open joint bank accounts after they get married. If your spouse typically deposits his or her paycheck into your joint account, you would probably notice if the regular amount were to suddenly change. This could be a sign that your spouse is stashing away a portion of each paycheck. You should also be on the lookout for Christmas bonuses that never arrive, profit-sharing money that starts dwindling, and other financial benefits that begin disappearing.
4. Exhibiting a sudden change in behavior.
There are many tactics used by unscrupulous spouses to conceal assets. The common thread running through all of them? A sudden, unexplained change in behavior by the spouse. If your spouse is normally a penny-pincher, stay vigilant for sudden generosity and frivolous spending. If your spouse typically spends monthly expenses out of an account and then suddenly stops you might look into credit cards that the deceptive spouse is using to shift debt onto the innocent spouse.
If your spouse is normally open and transparent about the finances, take note of evasive answers to financial questions. Becoming a little guarded around your spouse is normal—even expected—during a divorce. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to know everything about your spouse’s finances.
An Arizona Family Law Attorney is Your Best Firewall Against Dishonesty
Concealing property during a divorce is not just dishonest—it’s often illegal. Penalties for doing so can include civil fines, having to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees, and even jail time. These deterrents do not prevent every case of asset concealment, though, which is why you need a skilled divorce attorney in Glendale to help you expose dishonesty on your spouse’s part.
Monahan Law Firm has handled many divorce cases with suspected asset concealment. We know highly esteemed financial professionals who can detect these unsavory tactics and, ultimately, help you get a fair divorce settlement.