Property division can be a contentious issue in divorce. Although full financial disclosure is required by law, some spouses might attempt to conceal assets so that they are not distributed with the rest of the marital estate. Fortunately, there are discovery tools available to find and recover what your spouse may be hiding.
New York follows the rule of equitable distribution, which means assets and debts of divorcing spouses are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. With certain exceptions, property acquired during the marriage is considered marital property that is subject to division based either on an agreement between the parties or the decision of a judge. If the issue goes to court, the judge performs an analysis involving multiple factors, such as each spouse’s contributions to the family. Significantly, once divorce proceedings are commenced, orders go into effect prohibiting the spouses from transferring or dissipating marital property.
In a divorce action, each spouse must exchange a Statement of Net Worth that discloses all assets and debts. A spouse might hide assets by omitting them from the statement and possibly resorting to other dishonest tactics such as moving funds to offshore accounts, falsifying tax returns, laundering money through wasteful purchases, fraudulently transferring assets to friends, undervaluing property and creating false debt. If you suspect that your spouse has not truthfully and completely disclosed their assets, it is essential to have a diligent investigation conducted.
There are multiple litigation tools that can help determine whether your spouse is hiding assets, including:
Depositions — Parties in litigation must answer questions under oath at an out-of-court session known as a deposition. This gives your attorney the chance to press your spouse on any assets you suspect have not been disclosed. Failure to answer questions honestly during a deposition can constitute perjury.
Interrogatories — Both parties may be required to answer written questions. The answering party is required to consult their records and their accountant (for example) prior to writing their answer. This type of discovery can be very valuable, as it makes it nearly impossible to answer a question with “I don’t know” which often is the answer in a deposition. This discovery method can also be useful to verify the correctness of information that your spouse has provided.
Inspection demands — Your attorney can ask to inspect a certain asset or its presumed location, such as a safe deposit box. Inspection demands can sometimes spur your spouse to put hidden assets back into place.
Document demands — You can request that your spouse provide you with financial records such as bank statements, stock certificates, investment account statements, ownership documents and tax records.
Subpoenas — If a spouse fails to comply with discovery demands or claims not to have the information requested, you can subpoena the person or institution presumed to have control of the property to provide documents and records directly to my firm.
If your spouse refuses to comply with your discovery attempts or fails to turn over requested information, you can make a motion to the court to compel disclosure or document production. In complex cases, your divorce attorney may consult with a forensic accountant who can carry out a thorough investigation.
Bombardo Law Office, P.C. offers skilled counsel in divorce cases for clients throughout the Syracuse area. Call 315-800-4002 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
Bombardo Law Office, P.C. is located in Syracuse, NY and serves clients in and around Syracuse, Liverpool, Camillus, Warners, Nedrow, Cicero, Clay, Marcellus, East Syracuse, Elbridge and Jamesville.
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