In every Michigan divorce, the attorneys and judge work to divide the marital estate fairly and equitably to both spouses. But the court can only divide the assets if it knows about them. If you believe your spouse is hiding cash or other assets, you and your attorneys will need to do the work to prove it if you want to receive your equitable share.
How to Prove Your Spouse is Hiding Cash
As a spouse living in the family home, you may be your own best resource in proving your spouse is hiding cash or income. But it will take work. First, start tracking how much you spend on things like vacations, luxury items, nights out, and gifts. Then, where is that money coming from? If you believe your spouse is hiding cash, such as in a safe, closet, or even literally under the mattress, see if you can find it. If you do, don’t take it. Instead, take pictures of the location and the assets, and provide them to your divorce attorney for use at trial.
Other times the hidden assets aren’t cash on hand but money missing from the bank. If you notice that the family bank accounts are dropping without explanation, you should quickly go online or to your local branch and get copies of all the statements you can. This applies to any financial account with your name on it – banks, credit unions, investment accounts, and retirement portfolios. Your divorce attorney can use these statements to track the assets and find withdrawals that show your spouse is hiding cash somewhere else. They may have moved that money into:
- Secret bank accounts in their name only
- Savings accounts in your children’s names
- Accounts belonging to family members or friends
- Pre-paid credit cards or gift cards
- Trust accounts or offshore accounts
- Cryptocurrency wallets
When You Need a Forensic Accountant
Sometimes, you won’t be able to find the cash assets yourself. It can be difficult, especially if you have not historically been involved with the household finances. In those cases, you and your divorce attorney may decide to hire a forensic accountant to help you locate hidden marital assets. You might need a forensic accountant if you can say:
- We pay for everything with cash or gift cards
- We spend significantly more than we report earning
- My spouse keeps large amounts of cash on hand
- My spouse works in a cash-only business or receives large tips
Learn More: Listen to our Forensic Accounting podcast
Hidden Assets Can Mean More than Money
In some cases, it isn’t cash that is being hidden. Spouses seeking to conceal assets can hand off jewelry to adult children, give lavish “gifts” or “loans” to friends, or even transfer real property out of their name before the divorce is filed. Your divorce attorney can work with you and experts to trace these assets and hold your spouse accountable for hiding them.
How Michigan Courts Deal with Hidden Marital Assets
The Michigan court rules give both parties in a divorce the right to “discover” financial and personal information from one another and from third parties. This discovery allows your divorce attorney to use subpoenas, interrogatories, and requests to produce documents to uncover hidden assets. If they refuse to disclose the information, your divorce attorney can file a motion in court to compel them to turn it over or face sanctions, including attorney fees.
However, suppose your spouse succeeds in hiding cash or concealing marital assets. In that case, the law also allows the Court to hold that against them even after the judgment is entered. If you and your divorce attorney prove that your spouse concealed assets during your divorce trial, you may be awarded the entire value of those assets rather than just your equitable portion.
Get Help Proving Your Spouse is Hiding Cash
At Thacker Sleight, our experienced family law attorneys have experience uncovering hidden assets. We work with our clients and experts, including forensic accountants, to track down the missing funds and ensure our clients receive an equitable share of the entire estate. We provide our clients exclusive, highly professional service, advocating on their behalf against spouses who hide assets from the court. If you need help with your divorce, contact us at 616.888.3810 to schedule a consultation. We will be there with and for you every step of the way.