The process of getting divorced can be a challenging, difficult and tumultuous process. But it gets even worse if you suspect your spouse hiding money in divorce. When someone is hiding money in divorce, they are committing fraud. They are breaking the law. They are actively attempting to conceal what they are doing. Sadly, this can make it difficult to find the funds and prove that they are joint assets.
To cope with the end of your marriage is hard enough, but learning that a person you once trusted is also trying to take advantage of you financially can feel devastating and incredibly stressful. It’s a different feeling than to be worried that you might not be getting your fair share of the assets in the divorce. To uncover that your soon-to-be-ex is actively stealing and hiding money to get more than you are entitled to can feel frustrating, angering, unfair, and extremely hurtful.
How Would You Know If Your Spouse Is Hiding Money In the Divorce?
It’s hard to know if your spouse is hiding money, but it all starts with a gut feeling. You know your spouse. Trust your intuition. If you think something is wrong, it’s worth it to follow up on it.
In the world of forensic accounting, we talk about red flags of fraud. Red flags are warning signs that there may be fraud. They’re not proof of fraud, but they are signals that something may be wrong. Some common red flags you might see if your spouse is hiding money include:
1. Behaving secretively, especially if this is a change from their normal behavior
2. Keeping important financial information from you, maybe even locking you out of bank and credit card accounts
3. Making large purchases without telling you first, especially if they’re unnecessary or wasteful
4. Being involved in an extramarital affair
There is a lengthy list of red flags that could indicate your spouse is hiding money, so these are just a few quick examples. The more red flags you see at the same time, the more likely your intuition is correct and he or she is misusing marital money.
What Can You Do?
If you see several warning signs of financial fraud in your marriage, it is important to look into the finances. This is especially true if you weren’t involved in the finances during your marriage. Your spouse could have done all sorts of things with the money that you would never know about, and he or she could have been plotting it for months, even years.
Hiring a forensic accountant is usually the most comprehensive way to investigate the numbers. A forensic accountant can analyze the money that went in and out of your accounts for the last several years so you can know exactly what your family’s money was spent on.
The downside to hiring a forensic accountant is that it is very expensive. It could easily cost $10,000 or more to have a forensic accountant do a detailed analysis of your bank, credit card, and investment account records.
Most people going through the process of divorce –including those who suspect their spouse is hiding money, simply cannot afford that expense.
That’s why I created the Divorce Money Guide to assist people who need a forensic accountant in their divorce, but don’t want to incur the expense of hiring one. You should not have to ignore the money issues just because you can’t afford to hire a forensic accountant.
My divorce money guide offers ten simple steps that walk you through the “financial discovery” part of your divorce. The process includes: my list of the documents you need to determine if money is being hidden, how to get those documents, and what to do with them once you have them. Even if you are not a “numbers person,” you will find that there are simple things you can look at that may help you find the evidence you need to prove that your spouse is hiding money in the divorce.
The Divorce Money Guide was also designed to save you money on your attorney’s fees. Instead of paying your attorney to gather, sort, and prepare your bank statements for your divorce, you can do it on your own. This will save you hundreds (maybe even thousands) of dollars.
Do-It-Yourself With Expert Assistance
You’re not going to become a money detective or forensic accountant overnight just by using the Divorce Money Guide. But, you will have some tools that can help you learn more about your money. Someone isn’t telling you to just go look at your bank statements. Anyone can do that. Instead, the guide is like hiring a forensic accountant to guide you through the statements and show you exactly what to look for to find proof of fraud.
The more knowledge you have, the more power you will have, and the better off you will be as you work toward settling your divorce. You shouldn’t make decisions about a financial settlement without having all the information about the money.
In closing, I want to offer you this complimentary quiz to help you determine how much you really know about your financial situation. Remember this: if your ex is hiding money in the divorce it is illegal, unfair, and unethical. A divorce is tough enough, and you deserve to be on a level playing field when it comes to finances.
I’ve been a forensic accountant for 25 years, and I’ve seen the power of women who are willing to become educated and informed, even if it seems complicated and daunting. If you’re willing to take the time to become empowered, it could end up making a huge difference in your financial future!
Tracy Coenen, CPA, CFF, is a nationally recognized CPA and forensic accountant, who focuses on finding hidden money in divorce cases. A solo practitioner for over two decades, Coenen also works in the areas of fraud investigation and corporate litigation. Coenen is the creator and founder of the Divorce Money Guide, a 10-step handbook for men and women getting divorced aimed to help determine if a spouse is hiding money.