Where to Search for Hidden Assets During Divorce

Treasure MapQuestion

My husband just told me he wants a divorce, and he says he’s been thinking about it for quite a while. I’m afraid that he’s taken steps to hide money so that I won’t receive a fair share of our property. Where can I look to try to find any hidden money?

AnswerIt’s smart of you to be suspicious. Although by and large people are pretty honest while going through divorce, too many women trust their husbands when they shouldn’t. As a forensic accountant, I’ve seen a lot of cases where a husband tries to hide assets so he can keep more of a couple’s martial estate. Fortunately, many men try to hide cash in predictable places. Finding hidden assets is one of my specialties, and here are the first places I always look:

  • Antiques, artwork or hobby equipment: Your husband may convert cash into an expensive asset and then under-report its value. Look for new purchases, like furniture, artwork, watches, etc., especially at his office.
  • Delayed bonuses, stock options, or raises: If your husband gets stock options or a bonus before the divorce, that extra money will be included in the martial estate, which he might have to split with you.
  • Unreported income: If your husband is involved in any type of cash enterprise, he may be able to pocket the cash without reporting it on his tax returns and financial statements, which means you might never even know it exists! If you’ve ever felt that your lifestyle costs are greater than your combined income or that your husband always seems to be flush with unexpected cash, this suspicion is worth pursuing.
  • Custodial account: Your husband may try to hide cash by setting up a custodial account in the name of a child, using the child’s social security number.
  • Debt repayment: If your husband has an outstanding debt, he may decide it’s better to use his savings to pay it off rather than split that money with you. Men will sometimes pay a phony debt to a friend, with the pre-arrangement that the friend will hold the money until after the divorce and then return it.
  • Salary paid to a nonexistent employee: If your husband owns a business, he may funnel assets in the form of salary to a fake employee. To get the cash back after the divorce, all he has to do is void the checks.
  • Fake payments: In collusion with a family member, friend, or new girlfriend, your husband may pay for fake services or products. He can do this out of his private accounts or funnel revenue out of his business this way. The money will no doubt be given back to your spouse after the divorce is final. It is in your interest to carefully review all business and personal transactions.
  • Delay in signing long-term business contracts: A new business contract could mean a lot of money for a business; money your husband doesn’t want to share with you. If he purposefully delays the signing of a new contract until after the divorce, that can be construed as hiding assets.
  • Expenses paid for a girlfriend: This includes such things as gifts, travel, jewelry, rent or college tuition.
  • Investment in bonds with no interest: This includes municipal bonds or Series EE Savings Bonds for which no interest is reported on tax returns. If it isn’t reported, you may not realize it exists.

 If something does add up in the income your husband is reporting, let your attorney know right away. Your attorney may need to hire a forensic accountant to start digging a little deeper into your husband’s finances. It may be a lot of work, but if your husband is hiding assets, you could be losing out on a large amount of money that you are rightfully owed!

As you can see, divorce can get really complicated, especially if your husband plays hardball. Arm yourself with the knowledge you need by attending a Second Saturday Divorce Workshop near you and by reading more of our helpful divorce articles just for women.

Comments

  1. Sunshine Irwin says:

    This is a great article, I recently went through a divorce and needed to find my husband’s hidden assets and I came across this website called Docusearch.com. They had this article on hidden assets that really helped me as well. http://www.docusearch.com/category/hidden-assets

  2. Sunshine Irwin says:

    My husband did the same thing, I knew he had money hidden. I was a working mother with three kids and did not have to time to look for the money, nor did I even know where to look. I spoke with my lawyer and he told me I should look at a private investigator I found Docusearch http://www.docusearch.com/category/hidden-assets. They were amazing and were able to help!

    • Teresa Coriell says:

      Sunshine:

      Did Docusearch help you directly or was it their article that helped?
      If they directly what were they able to uncover for you?

  3. Frances says:

    First off none of these web sites can actually locate bank accounts for you.
    These are all scams, because the simple fact is that it is illegal to conduct bank account searches.

    It is law and if they conduct an illegal search you the client can and will get in trouble.
    Bank searches conducted illegally cannot be submitted to court because it would reveal that you engaged in illegal actives..

    Do not waste your money.. Just pay for a forensic account so it can be executed via the courts in a legal fashion..

    Read the law… http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/why-it-is-critical-to-conduct-asset-sear-86954/

  4. Frances,

    Your information is completely wrong. It appears that you did not do your research before publishing this post. All you did was simply re-post an advertorial for a database company who lack the skills, experience, knowledge and license to conduct legal bank searches. As a licensed private investigator, I can tell you that bank account searches CAN be performed legally. The “Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 did not outlaw bank account searches, rather the means that most investigators performed them, ie pre-texting banks posing as the customer. There are other LEGAL methods capable private investigators employ to secure this valuable information. The licensed investigators mentioned in the first post (docusearch.com) use legal methods to obtain bank account records and these records may be used in court.

    • Hello,
      I just had a question my mother is sick and her boyfriend has basically cut off all contact with her from the family. We’re concerned that he’s talked her into making out a will and hiding assets. We don’t have the money to hire anyone to look for the paperwork or the accounts is there anything we can do ourselves. We know that if we leave this until after she passes he’ll get everything and that’s not fair to the grandkids. And since he has kept her from getting medical help as well there’s no proof of her illness so we would have a hard time getting any will over turned.
      Thank You…

    • Thank you for the positive reply to the person stating it’s illegal to search Bank accounts. I’ve been trying to find bank, investments, insurance policies etc for my cosmetic surgeon w/private surgery center and on staff at all local hospitals. After 20 years of marriage I went to his medical center and found he had another practice in Scottsdale and a few small bits of information. He abandon my son and I in our house of 12 yrs and when I went to get money to maintain house, HE HAD DEPLETED AND HID EVERY PENNY. He forged my signatures and was able to surrender my private investments ,bank taking housed, i was unable to pay utilities as he stopped paying 6 mo prior to leaving. AND multiple accounts (utility co. etc) were opened over 10 yrs ago and ALL USING MY NAME & SOCIAL SECURITY #. My credit score show down to 400? I was homeless. The accountant , who paid all our bills personal & business, Hung up on me when I asked for tax, financials. His office (I hired, assuming friends) lied and covered for him , even filed a false restraining order to keep me away . I have spent the past 8 months trying to find any paper trails..all day & nite in little apt researching .I was becoming hopeless until I saw your post and that maybe these countless days in isolation researching …I will finally find money to get divorce. Many thanks

      • You will be able to get all records for any accounts that bear your name and social security number, so keep looking.

      • I’ve been up most of the night and was guided to this website, reading your post sounds exactly what happened to be. No money, left for work and never returned, I was devastated. He took care of everything, so I had no paper trail. The accountant did the taxes at his business, he kept everything at the business. I was broken,and depressed. It took me a while to heal and now I’m looking for a good attorney. I wish your heart heal rapidly and that you surround yourself with people that will help you through.

  5. What if Husband hides income in foreign account or own foreign property. I have a vague idea of how much he is hiding but no documentary proof. All the properties are in India, and in India there is no concept of marital property and there fore no concept of fair division of property.

  6. Hello,

    I need an advice for my daughter. She left her abusive husband and now they’re going through a divorce. She has her two little one with her and now living with me. They went through mediation but he doesn’t want agree to anything. He threaten her before she left him, that she won’t get anything out of him. Anyways my daughter found another house online under his name but he later transfer it to someone else. Any suggestion of how we can track the transfer history? He’s basically lying to the court and now taking the divorce to trial. Any suggestion would really appreciated. Thank you

  7. Karla g. says:

    Hi, I’m a immigrant women and I married an American citizen 6 years ago, we have been together for 9 years and have 2 children. I have been physically, mentally and economically abused by him, there had been arrests and restriction orders agains him trough the years also photos of the injuries and my kids are witnesses to the abuse. Also he recently cheated openly for several months and I said opently because he introduced her to his family and friends, so I have begun humiliated in every way possible. I’m scared of filing for divorce because 5 years ago we bought a house with his mother help because my husband’s credit is the worst, so the house was put on his mothers name, but all payments are made by him. We also have a tenant that knows me and him as the only owners however the lease was made with his mothers name on it. I’m afraid that if I file for divorce neither me or my kids won’t receive what by right belongs to us. He also overly spend money from a small family bussines in his afair. Please help I can’t afford a lawyer due to my dependency to him because he prohibits me from working. If you could be so kind to provide me with advice I will really appreciated. Thank you so much !!!!

  8. After my devorce now he has over two million dollars i don’t have five thoundsand5,000 up front i please need help till i can give back & more!!!!

  9. I was naive .is it late to amend divorce after 9 years if fraud was involved.
    951 -313-4426

    • It depends on the laws of your state. In most states, you can open a case up if an asset was omitted from the settlement. There may be other ways to do it as well — consult with an attorney in your area to find out.

  10. I want to do the research myself (as I have the time) to find if he has purchased any property without my knowledge. I also believe he has hidden money, bank and brokerage accounts. Are only licensed investigators allowed to search? If I knew how i’d be willing to do the leg work? Any suggestions? Thank-you in advance for your reply.

  11. If a suspected family member has commited Identity Theft and are hiding an IRA Account and other securities that they have taken from their father’s brokerage account., is there a way to run a check in your own name to see if there is bank accounts or brokerage accts that might be in your name? Or do we have to write a letter to each brokerage company and banks to check to see if there are any listings?

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

  12. I supported my wife threw ever decision she ever made from opening a store to school and quitting good paying jobs. I had complete trust in her to take care of bills etc. I agreed to take one hundred a week for all my needs threw the week . I found out she was also taking a hundred and putting it in a secret bank account and using our joint account for everything else she needed she has transferred money into my kids savings and her dads accounts. I guess my question would be is this illegal, embezzlement, hiding assets and if she can get away with it I was the soul provider throughout the marriage but she demands more. Won’t agree to any divorce proposal I have offered . I just don’t know what she could be after any help would be great

  13. My husband had seen an attorney a year ago. He bragged to someone( I overheard his phone conversation) that the attorney told him to start taking withdrawals from his separate checking account and put it in family member names then , if divorce happens, claim a gambling problem. I found $50,000 cash he had withdrawn over one year. He has a very sneaky attorney with a reputation for lying and underhanded tactics. First, can he get by with the hidden money? Second, what can be done about this unethical attorney?

  14. Ginita, my sister is going through a divorce with a deadbeat dad. She’s going to court soon to get a final judgment on child support in arrears. Her ex-husband, while still living with her years ago, stashed away a lot of cash in safety deposit box. Furthermore, he managed to get his employer to pay him in cash. In short, there are no bank accounts, but there is cash and it has been hidden. What would you advise my sister to do so that she can help the attorneys win her case? As I see it, she could win a judgment but never see a dime. to receive the money that she is owed, and to receive continued child support payments for the next year or two, the court would have to to receive the money that she is owed, and to receive continued child support payments for the next year or two, the court would have to garnish the money in fact sieze it from wherever it has been hidden. Not to be redundant, but that action could not take place because the money is all in cash.

    • If he is employed, then his wages could be garnished, even if he is normally paid in cash. She could get an order to open up the safe deposit box and her attorney can put whatever funds are found into a client trust account.

  15. My husband has cash in bank accounts can he transfer to another name and then file for divorce…can I trace the money after divorce… Also, he buys diamonds and hide can he later claim that he has bought it for me

    • If he has signing authority on the bank accounts, then he can write checks and transfer funds.
      I don’t know the laws of your state, but they likely provide that he can file for divorce if he has been a resident of the state for 6 months.
      Tracing funds after the divorce is final will do you no good — you need to trace it before it is final so that you can be sure that you get your fair share of the funds, no matter where he has transferred them.
      Of course he can claim that he bought diamonds for you — but if you didn’t receive them, I don’t know how he can prove that isn’t a lie.

  16. Hi. Just need somene direction. My sister after 2630 years of being with her husband had filed for divorce. She is tired of his cheating ways and disappearing money. She is a cancer and RA survivor and I worry about her. Her husband makes over $4k net a month in Iowa. He filed a financial deposition that stayed he had no money and then had the nerve to ask if the courts will allow him to buy a new car with my sister’s credit.
    He is outright lying but my sister only had so much energy and money to fight. Is there a way to find out where he is money ? He makes $4k monthly and stay at his mom’sThus far the courts said because he had nothing he can’t support her. His made up expenses exceed his income. Hasn’t paid his portion of the mortgage in a year. What can she do before the stress makes her ?
    Thanks

    • She should talk to her attorney ASAP about support. If he has income and she does not, in most states he would owe support. I’m not sure why, with $4,000 a month of wages, he can say he has no income, but I’m not an attorney and I’m not familiar with the laws of your state. Her attorney is both, and that’s who she should consult to get advice.

  17. Hi, I am pregnant with my second child and my husband keeps on threatening to leave me. He is also training to be an electrician, and I have reason to believe he is planning to get paid in cash under the table. I already have him on recording admitting to his plan, is this sufficient evidence to prove he might be evading paying child support equal to what is required of his salary? Should I attempt to exchange emails? Record more discussions? How else can I prove how much he gets paid?

  18. I have been divorced for over three years. At the time of the divorce I allowed my ex to oversee our sons’ college funds since he was a CFO and more capable than me. I trusted that he would share the information with me when I needed it. My oldest son is looking at colleges to start in the Fall of 2016 and I asked to see the college funds to get an idea of planning for the next few years. My ex is refusing to show them to me. My name should be on the accounts, though I can’t guarantee they are. Is there a way I can find my sons’ college funds? My fear is that he has somehow depleted those funds and I’ll be stuck footing the bill for college since I live in a state where the non-custodial parent has zero obligations after the child turns 18. Thanks!

    • If your divorce agreement said that your name should be on the accounts and he followed through, you can contact the custodian directly. If your divorce agreement didn’t specify that your name go on the account, or if your husband failed to put your name on the accounts, then you can’t get information from the custodian. If you have proof that there were funds in the accounts, and now there isn’t, your children may have a cause of action against their father once they turn 18, since he withdrew funds that were meant for education. If your divorce agreement had provisions about those funds, you too might be able to pursue him legally.

  19. june Fleming says:

    My exhusband is a self employed floor layer, and I have seen his bank statements that show money going in and out of another account possibly girlfriend s. He is also spending money on hundreds of pounds of clothes from men’s shops ,gift for her hotels and both fly between Norfolk and Scotland every fortnight. He is obviously up to something how can I prove it.

  20. My husband has been work from 25 years, we are married from 7 years and has been hiding money/finances from me from the beginning, never discloses any details of savings. God forbid if something happens to him, I would be on the street with my children not knowing the sources from where to pay the bills.
    Recently he has started saying he has no money, but I know he has transferred all his pre-marital and other savings in his family member names(mother and sisters) who are living abroad in india, and he plan to abandon me and our child.
    Please advice in case I go through a divorce, how can I trace the savings and transfers made to his siblings/mother to banks in India outside the US?
    He has also got inherited property which he has transferred in this siblings name to avoid taxes and not declared this to IRS ? Is it possible to claim that he has re-payed a previous loan ?

    I don’t have access to his bank accounts, IRA accounts, so not even sure if I can find the bank transfers during the proceedings ?

    Please, advice.

  21. My husband accepted a job in his home country shortly after getting his greencard through our marriage, and never returned to live with me. I later found out he had a pregnant girlfriend in his home country and had been living a double life. He shared none of his income with me for the entirety of 2014 and 2015. I filed for divorce in 2015, and our divorce is still not final, so I was technically still married as of 12/31. I have no idea how much he may have earned, or how much may have been in his bank accounts in his country at any given time (we did not have a joint account in his country, and I took him off of mine as soon as I realized that he had a double life and I no longer wanted to be with him. What status should I file taxes for last year? Married filing jointly gives me a refund, and I know he had no US income, but can I be penalized if he had foreign income that I am not aware of? If I file Married Filing Separately, I owe a lot (because I was still withholding from my checks at the married rate, not realizing that I would be filing for divorce), and frankly I can’t afford that as I’m paying for the divorce just to get him out of my life. Any advice is appreciated.

    • If your divorce is not final, you and your spouse can file jointly, or you can file as married filing separately or possibly as head of household if you have children living at home. Talk to your tax preparer about your options.

  22. Concerned says:

    Hi Ginita,

    I’m very happy that I found this website.

    I have 2 questions about hidden bank accounts and money. How can I find other bank accounts that my ex has? Looking at the joint account, I can see that he is not paying his lawyer from that account, for example, so he should have at least one more account with a fund that I am not aware of its source ( his salary goes to joint account and pays off the mortgage and his bills). I am sure he hides his money and he is not afraid of testing limits with law and would not disclose it.

    Also, if he withdraws money from his savings account after separaration, am I entitled to the balance right at the time of separation or at the time of his disclosure of assets?

    Thanks so much for the help you provided here to people!

    • Your attorney can subpoena documents from financial institutions and send formal requests for documents to your spouse. He might also have a credit card you don’t know about, so look for credit card payments from known accounts. Ask your attorney about the implications of funds withdrawn from savings after separation in your state. The laws in each state are different.

  23. Hello Ginita,

    I’m married to my deaf husband for 22 yrs and my husband is 62 and and I am 47 he change alot and how he is more selfish with money.. My daughter is 19 years old and go to college and had job small pay
    and she still living with me. I also had 15 yrs old son. I always help my daughter pay for collegs and foods
    Now My husband said to me why do u give money to her she has job she can pay I was so upset and My husband has two jobs and he yell at me why do u use my money it not ur money I collect Social Security disability i can’t work due to health issues. Now my husband has his own bank account with royalty investment saving so I did add my name to his account. . My husband threaten me if u touch my money or used my money to spend. He will send me to Jail . He will take all money to change differnt bank without me know which bank he go to or won’t touch his money
    My husband never pay the bills I am the one who pay the bills. I always stay home I can’t drive and can’t walk my husband favorite word that he is calling me SPEND I said I didn’t spend money I said When I pay bills that is not mean spend .. He always run to his mom and telling her that his wife spend money

    He never pay foods for family he didn’t want to spend it
    He never want to pay college for my daughter
    We still pay mortgage he doesn’t want to
    He never paid cable tv He addicted to watch TV SOAP OPERA
    When I used my money social security I pay foods for kids and me only I cook for kids only when my husband come home from work he said where is my foods what am I gonna eat I am hungry I said if u want foods go buy on your own then he said you are not nice I work two jobs I didn’t want to pay cable My kids and I watch movies and TV shows in HULU and Netflix when my cable is due and disconnect and wait for a week My husband acting crazy over TV cable Box to restart over over over he doesn’t want
    to miss he got angry hit me physically He said he will divorce me if I didn’t pay cable because he doesn’t want to miss soap opera I told him Go on HULU No big Deal….i was upset every day crying every day….. What should I do

  24. I got divorced 2 years ago and the stipulation stated that I am supposed to get half of my ex 401k and pension. He has been working at Metro North RR for almost 30 years and I know he supposed to have at least $400,000 in his 401k. My attorney did not go a very good job, so when I hired a new attorney to do the QDRO, she didn’t know what she was up against. When my ex presented his statement 401 K dated. 2011-2015, it stated $3,000. We know that he has moved his money. I need to know how I can find out how much money was in his 401k from the time we have been married up until the divorce, which is 20 years.

  25. My husband abandoned me almost four years ago when I was seriously sick. He left for work and never returned home. He brought a house, moved in a women and created a child. He didn’t send a dollar a month for me after 14 years marriage and no children. I went from physically ill to very depressed. Now 42 months later he shows up wanting a divorce but not through the Maryland courts. He assumed I would just sign papers and let it be done, but I’m not. He’s self employed in DC, we have a vacation home in the caribbean. He has much more that I don’t know about because he controlled everything. There are properties, lands, bank accounts (national /international) and businesses in his name alone. Please advise me, Thanks

  26. charles wintner says:

    wives hide assets too! Sexist article, like all articles by women on divorce

    • It is absolutely true that both sexes are capable of hiding assets. But this is a reply to a woman asking about her husband hiding assets, and it would be weird to answer about what her wife might have done, since she doesn’t have a wife.

  27. Ben Feldman says:

    My wife has since our marriage and I was working and so was she has hidden monies from her pay checks giving it to her sisters to hide for her. Now I am down to my last penny and retired and she still is working hiding monies in accounts and opening a checking account where here pay checks get deposited with her name only on the account. I have been paying all the bills with my social security with nothing left to leave to our son.
    So you think it only happens to women, wake up, it happens a lot more to men, because the laws are more for women.

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