Clients often tell me at their divorce consultation that their spouse has been hiding money, doesn't let them see bank statements, maintains a separate account or worse has been spending lots of money improperly. The client is scared that they will not find what is hidden or will not recover what has been spent and they need my help.
The easy, but not always effective answer, is to explain to the client that both sides are required to disclose all assets and debts, complete a Statement of Net Worth, provide tax returns for the last several years and recent pay stubs. However, that may often not be enough. So even after I explain that there are ways to make each person produce bank statements, credit card statements and other receipts that still might not be enough.
As an attorney for over 30 years of which the last 22 years have been solely devoted to matrimonial cases, this situation is quite familiar. To begin, I will review the disclosed documents and Statement of Net Worth. I will review the tax returns for listings of partnerships, corporate income, interest, dividends, and write offs. I will review the bank statements to get a sense of the typical flow of deposits and withdrawals. Are the monies coming out by check, transfer or by ATM? Does the income match expenses and lifestyle? I will decide if I need to subpoena documents that have not been produced, determine whether it is necessary to take the deposition of somoeone other than the spouse, for example a business partner, a "friend" or a secretary to begin to put pressure on and to find the truth. In some cases a forensic accountant will be retained to delve even deeper into the backup for deductions on tax returns and verification of income vs expenses of a business. The accountant can reveiw inventory, payroll, insurance, profit margin and many other sophisticated accounting concepts.
There are other parts to this process to locate hidden or wasted marital assets. Will every dollar be found, most likely not. However, the cost/benefit analysis will determine how far to go, how much time to take and how much money to spend to make sure that my client receives their fair share.
If you find yourself in this situation, please call my office so that I can help you protect your rights.