Georgia property division: Are you missing some money?

| Jun 26, 2020 | Firm News

You recently went to the bank to make a deposit. You noticed that several withdrawals were on an account that has both your and your spouse’s name on it. Maybe it’s not the first time something like this has occurred in the past several months. If you and your spouse have been preparing for divorce, there might be more going on with your banking situation than meets the eye. Sadly, many spouses in Georgia and elsewhere attempt to hide assets in divorce.

Whether you’ve been married less than five years or more than 10 or 20, when you divorce, you’ll need to resolve all property division issues. However, Georgia does not recognize community property guidelines. Like most states, it operates under equitable property rules, which means your marital property will be fairly, although not necessarily equally, divided in divorce.

How to know if you have a hidden asset problem

It’s impossible to achieve a fair settlement if you and your spouse do not fully disclose all assets and liabilities during property division proceedings. If your spouse wants to gain the upper hand, he or she might attempt to hide assets to keep you from getting all that you’re entitled to in a settlement. If you’re missing money from a jointly owned account, it’s definitely cause for concern. 

If you ask your spouse about it and he or she meets you with confrontation or a highly defensive attitude, it may be a sign of a hidden asset problem. Also, if your spouse recently opened a custodial account for one of your minor age children, you should know that this is also a common means for hiding assets in divorce. Your spouse can deposit or withdrawal money from the account without question.

Pay close attention to these issues as well

Asset-hiding schemes often involve over-payments on credit cards or tax returns. When is the last time you carefully reviewed your credit card statement or tax documents? Failing to report cash income on a tax return is another way people hide assets in divorce.

Did your spouse recently give a large sum of money to a relative or friend? When you asked about it, did he or she say it was payback for a loan or that it was a loan? If you suspect a hidden asset problem, such activity should alert you. A spouse who wants to hide money can easily do so by asking someone to hold onto it for him or her until the court finalizes a divorce.

It’s unfair and illegal to hide assets in divorce

You might not want to think the worst about your spouse. You just want to settle your divorce and move on in life. However, not investigating a situation when you suspect that money or other assets have gone missing may wind up causing you to get the short end of the stick during property division proceedings.

Gathering evidence is important if you decide to bring a hidden asset problem to the court’s attention. If you stay silent, the judge in your case will have no way of knowing there’s a problem. Remember that the court can take action against illegal activity in divorce, such as hiding assets.