Impending divorce can bring out the worst in a person, especially when it comes to finances. Many spouses begin squirrelling away assets in order to avoid having to share them with the soon-to-be-ex in the course of property distribution. If you are thinking about divorce, it pays to stay alert to signs of secretive financial activities. Otherwise, by the time the court is dividing up marital assets, the hidden assets may be long gone.
Sudden changes in spending and withdrawals
Abrupt and unexplained changes in financial habits can serve as a red flag. If your spouse suddenly begins withdrawing amounts of money and refusing to tell you what for, you may want to look further. Once withdrawn and turned into cash, the money will be hard to track.
If your spouse refuses to share information about income and expenses with you, do not let this go. Even in households where one spouse has assumed the bulk of responsibility for bills and financial paperwork, the other spouse should have access to accounts and be able to view statements. Refusing to provide you with access to information can mean that your spouse does not want you to know how much money he or she has and where it is going. Your spouse may also be using your personal information to secretly open credit lines for which you will bear responsibility.
Unsubstantiated claims of decreased income
When a spouse claims that the household income has decreased yet continues to spend exorbitantly, it is time to question what is going on. Many spouses prepare for divorce by alleging that their business is losing money, their investments are tanking or their salaries have suffered a cut. In reality, it is easy to substantiate these claims by producing statements, tax returns and pay stubs. Refusal to do so can signal misconduct.
Pressuring you to sign documents
Another type of pre-divorce financial shenanigans can occur when a spouse gets the soon-to-be-ex to sign off on documents like powers of attorney or releases of interest. If your spouse pressures you to just sign something quickly, do not do so. Always insist on taking your time to read and understand any document before you sign it. A spouse who reacts negatively to such insistence probably does not have your best interests at heart.
If you do discover signs that your spouse is hiding assets, your best option is to consult an attorney. Avoid taking actions such as closing accounts or transferring funds on your own, since doing so without an attorney's guidance can result in allegations against you. An experienced family law attorney can help you protect your rights effectively.