Your soon-to-be ex-spouse (STBX) may think they are being sneaky about hiding their assets from you, but there are many ways to find out about these hidden assets. If your spouse obtained any assets while you were together, it is your right to have them considered in your divorce, unless of course there was a prenuptial agreement saying otherwise. In fact, in some rare cases, even a premarital asset might be divided in a divorce case. If you missed it, check out our Part 1 blog How Could Your Spouse Be Hiding Assets In A Divorce? to see the common ways assets can be hidden in a Michigan divorce.
So How Do I Discover These Assets If They’re Hidden?
The discovery of hidden assets can be hard for anyone, but especially for a spouse that was not involved in their family/spouse’s finances. That is partially why the first step in discovering hidden assets is to hire an experienced attorney. We have seen what can happen when a divorce is done without an attorney because we have been sought out to fix the issues that come up later. Our family law attorneys can help those in Mid-Michigan from Jackson and Midland to Ionia, Eaton, St. Johns, and Lansing, but I think we can both agree that it would be better to solve all problems the first time. Also understand that in most cases, there is a short period of time to get back into court even if your former spouse intentionally hid assets from you during the marriage and divorce case. As with most things, getting it done correctly the first time around is always far better than trying to do damage control after the fact. Every one of our family court judges around Mid Michigan will agree with that statement.
This first step might seem obvious, but it is crucial. It is important to have an attorney involved in your divorce regardless, but it is especially important if you are needing to uncover hidden assets and ensure you are getting your equitable share from the divorce as is required by law. A good divorce attorney will then know what questions to ask and will work to ensure that any assets that should be considered are on the table. Top divorce attorneys have experience and knowledge but they also know which professionals to bring into a case when that becomes necessary. Some examples of outside experts that we sometimes bring into cases are forensic accountants, valuation experts, private investigators, computer examiners, and document examiners.
Your attorney will be able to request documentation that you or they believe shows hidden assets. They can conduct depositions or send formal interrogatories, among many other methods that we use often. If necessary, they can issue a subpoena, which is a court order that will be taken seriously. It will be possible to look at tax records and bank statements to ensure that the marital and personal assets are being divided equitably.
Also, it is important to know that just because the divorce is finalized doesn’t mean the case is closed. If one spouse found out the other hid assets during the divorce, the wronged person can ask to have the divorce case reopened and have those hidden assets considered. Again, the window of opportunity to do this is short and this isn’t the best way to go about the process. Let’s just do it right the first time around. And heaven forbid if you thought you could handle the divorce on your own without an attorney but now you understand how foolish that was, please understand that if an attorney can help you repair your mistakes, it will likely be very costly to do that.
What Does Discovering Hidden Assets Mean For Me?
If hidden assets are discovered, there are several things that can happen, and often the results will be specific to the details of your case. There are cases where Michigan courts have awarded 100% of the hidden assets to the spouse they were hidden from. Sometimes you may receive a larger share because of the hidden assets. You may also receive attorney’s fees if you have incurred additional expenses in an effort to uncover the hidden assets. You may also be out of luck and get none of those hidden assets after the divorce is finalized.
Additionally, the person who hid assets could be charged with fraud or be found to commit perjury under oath. Both of these can cause additional fines and penalties, and are both felonies.
If you are going through a divorce, and especially if you are concerned about hidden assets, you need to have a trustworthy and experienced divorce attorney that you can count on. At The Kronzek Firm, our family law attorneys have helped our clients uncover hidden assets and get the equitable divide they have the right to under Michigan Law. We’ve helped thousands of clients right here in Mid Michigan over the decades. Reach out to us today by calling 517-886-1000 if you are looking for, or looking to switch to, a strong divorce attorney.