What can I do if I suspect my spouse is hiding assets?

It is not unheard of for spouses to attempt to minimize assets by depositing funds in another person’s account, overpaying credit card statements, delaying the distribution of trust income, and deferring income. An accountant may be engaged to review such items as owner loans, dividends, retained earnings, distributions of income by partnerships and subchapter S corporations, bonuses, expense accounts, retirement plans, depreciation of property, and perquisites employment. 

Where it is suspected that a reduction in income is related to the marital dispute, an accountant may look for a sudden unexplained reduction in salary, deferred payment of salary and bonuses, an increase of personal expenses paid by the business, payment of salary to third persons, payment of business expenses to a “shell” business created by the self-employed spouse, unusually high payments to suppliers, loans to the company by the owner which have the effect of reducing income paid to the owner and/or reducing the value of the business, and payroll checks that are not cashed or cash receipts that are not deposited. It may be necessary to search for undisclosed assets. In some cases, forensic accounting techniques require the review of numerous documents to follow a “money trail.” The process can be costly. The search for information may include such sources as computer records, receipts, passports, foreign income reported on tax returns, and records showing transactions that are just under the limit which banks must report to the government. 

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