Tips for Locating Hidden Assets in Divorce

Former NFL player and Super Bowl champ, Jeremy Shockey, and Daniela Cortazar enjoyed a brief eight months of nuptial bliss before Shockey filed for divorce in January 2013. TMZ now reports that Shockey “is playing dumb with his finances according to his soon-to-be ex-wife.” Cortazar claims that Shockey’s net worth is over $15 million but apparently Shockey is pretending to know nothing about his finances in his legal documents. Shockey is even refusing to provide information regarding his net worth. Cortazar is asking a judge to punish Shockey with fines or jail time. More importantly though, to get a fair share in the divorce settlement, Cortazar should take prudent measures to make sure that Shockey doesn’t have any hidden assets tucked away.

Hidden assets are those assets which are not readily visible typically because signs of ownership have been concealed or disguised by the other spouse. Hidden assets typically include liquid assets such as bank accounts, mutual funds, stock and bonds. These types of liquid assets can easily be transferred into another person or entity’s name. Sometimes, these assets are even transferred into accounts in banks offshore which prohibit being touched under the laws of the particular country.

Learn more about divorce and property divisionHidden assets are particularly important in divorce cases because when a court does not know about a particular asset, it cannot properly divide the asset or award it to one party or the other. Hiding assets is clearly illegal because both spouses lawfully have a claim to all marital property during a divorce proceeding. Therefore, being attentive to marital finances can help ensure that your divorce settlement is fair to you.

The first step in hunting down hidden assets during a divorce proceeding requires a diligent tracking and study of all financial records. Looking at old financial statements may help to identify suspicious transactions. For instance, an asset may initially be present in financial documents and then suddenly it has disappeared near the time of divorce or during divorce proceedings.

Other tips on finding hidden assets include the following:

  • Get a credit report on your spouse. Credit reports may contain information regarding financial accounts or credit that are unknown to you.
  • Look for payment of excess income tax and then a subsequent filing for the tax refund after the divorce.
  • Have items such as artwork, hobby equipment, antiques, original paintings, etc. appraised.
  • Be diligent about locating any cash kept as traveler’s checks. You can do this by tracing bank account deposits and withdrawals.
  • Look for any inconsistencies which may indicate delayed disbursements of bonuses or stock options.
  • Be aware of any income that isn’t reflected on either financial statements or tax returns.

Read more about property division and divorce in San Diego

If you think that your spouse has hidden assets then it may be a good idea to get assistance from an experienced attorney to help you find them. Nancy J. Bickford is the only attorney in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Call 858-793-8884 to receive assistance today and take steps to ensure that your divorce settlement is fair to you.

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