It’s a well-known fact that some people try to hide money during their divorce. They will sometimes transfer assets to family or friends, hide cash in safety deposit boxes or even set up offshore accounts, just to try and keep their ex from getting her a share of the marital assets. Lying on income and expense declaration is common, as well. I’m sad to say that most often, the spouse who is being duped is the wife.
Men facing divorce suddenly “forget” to tell you or the attorneys everything related to the assets and money. You might call this “divorce amnesia.” (Hat tip to Rhonda Noordyk of the Women’s Financial Wellness Center, the most awesome divorce financial strategist in the world… who coined the phrase.)
Divorce amnesia is all too common in divorce. When it comes to being completely transparent and honest during negotiations, the lies come easily. “Forgetting” is lying, and lying about money is financial infidelity.
These people think that they can actually hide money without consequences. And all too often, the courts refuse to penalize them for their dishonest behavior. Lying on income and expense declaration is so common. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve uncovered a hidden account, only to have a judge divide it 50/50.
Why isn’t there a penalty to the spouse who hid the account? Why aren’t there consequences for lying on income and expense declaration?
If you suspect your soon to be ex is hiding money or assets, and/or lying on income and expense declaration, there are ways to know for sure:
- Seek the guidance of a professional. – Of course, discuss your concerns with your attorney first. Qualified, legal counsel can advise you if it could be beneficial to get a forensic accountant involved who will dig deep into your accounts and overall finances to find financial fraud.
- Review your bank and credit card statements. – Even if you were not the one “in charge” of the marital finances, you may be able to pinpoint erroneous charges, excessive ATM withdrawals, duplicate utility payments. Don’t be ashamed if you trusted your spouse to take care of the money. This is very common and of course you trusted him. You married him and didn’t go into it thinking you would be going through a divorce.
- Check your credit. – A lot of women don’t realize it, but your ex may have gotten accounts in your name that you are unaware of to hide charges for an affair partner. Even if there is nothing suspicious with your credit report, it is always good practice to run your report to know where you stand, so when you are budgeting and planning for life after divorce, you understand your finances.
- Trust your gut. – They don’t call it women’s intuition for nothing. That nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach just may be your best indicator that things are not quite right. You deserve your fair share of the assets and money from your marriage. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Threats, lies and intimidation are common, especially if the husband was the sole “breadwinner” of the family. Stay-at-home moms are more likely to be manipulated into thinking that they don’t “deserve” anything since they didn’t work outside of the home.
This could not be further from the truth. You have rights. You deserve your fair share. You may have put your career on hold to care for your children and the marital home. This is valuable and you are entitled to your fair share of the assets and money in your divorce.
Don’t let your soon-to-be ex dictate what you get or don’t get in the settlement. Get the advice of your attorney and use your detective skills. Truth is the only cure for “divorce amnesia.”
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 Fraud Coach, the company that hosts the Divorce Money Guide, a 10-step handbook for men and women getting divorced aimed to help determine if a spouse is hiding money, Post-Divorce Money Guide, a 10-step handbook in managing your money after divorce, and the Marriage Money Guide, a tool to help you manage your money before walking down the aisle.
Like this article? Check out, “Is Your Spouse Hiding Money in the Divorce?”