Marriages break apart for a variety of reasons, but dishonesty is certainly at the top of the list. Unfortunately, some secretive behaviors can seriously affect your chances of a fair divorce settlement. For some tips on avoiding problems with hidden issues, read on.
Full and Honest Financial Disclosures
Honest financial disclosures are an important part of divorce policy. It's almost impossible to come to a fair agreement on things unless both parties disclose everything — at least when it comes to financial issues. The importance of full and honest disclosure shows up in several areas and some of them could negatively affect you for years to come:
Not all debts are considered marital debts, but some states make both parties equally responsible for any debt taken on after the date of the marriage. In most cases, all marital debts are split up in a fair manner — as long as all are known at the time of the divorce settlement. Debts not disclosed, however, may end up causing untold problems when the creditor steps forward later.
Assets are important when it comes to an equitable property settlement agreement. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for some spouses to hide assets from the divorce proceedings. That means they could end up with more than their fair share of marital property. Those involved in high-asset divorces or when a business is present are the most vulnerable to hidden asset issues.
Just like hidden assets, hidden income can negatively affect the divorce agreement. Several major divorce issues are directly based on the income of the parties. Child support, alimony (or spousal support), and other issues can be affected by income.
Taking Protective Actions
You don't need to just allow yourself to be taken advantage of when it comes to your spouse's lack of disclosure. If you think your spouse is not being totally honest, let your lawyer know about it right away. Some signs to watch for include:
- Having a business interest that you know very little about. Businesses that use a lot of cash are particularly susceptible to issues with hidden income.
- Being unable to access financial information about your spouse (whereas you previously did have access).
Speak to a divorce lawyer about forcing your spouse to make a full financial disclosure by court order. The judge can subpoena your spouse's financial records even if they don't agree to it. Then, special accountants can comb through the records to identify certain red flags of dishonesty. To find out more, speak to your lawyer.