What to Do If You Find Out that Your Husband Hid Money From You During Your Divorce

SecretiveMany divorces are downright nasty, especially if a lot of money is on the line. A high-earning spouse isn’t exactly happy to hand over his assets to his soon-to-be ex, especially if they live in a Community Property State that requires couples to equally split their marital estate.

Hiding assets during a divorce is more common than you might think, and we’ve written a few articles here at WIFE about how to

Hiding assets during a divorce is more common than you might think, and we’ve written a few articles here at WIFE about how to find out if your spouse is hiding assets. What happens if you discover that your ex hid assets after your divorce is complete? Can you still make your ex pay up?

Try to Find Hidden Assets During the Divorce Process

It will be much easier to search for hidden assets during the divorce process itself rather than going back after the fact to try to recoup what you deserve. If you even suspect the possibility that your spouse could be hiding assets during your divorce, then start searching.

It might be a good idea to hire a private investigator and/or a forensic accountant to look for anomalies in your husband’s declarations and financial paperwork. Your divorce attorney can also petition the court to compel your spouse to hand over documents, such as retirement statements and pay stubs.

What to Do If You Discover Hidden Assets After a Divorce

Of course, you can’t always catch your husband in the act of hiding assets. Sometimes the truth only comes out later. Maybe a mutual friend mentions a second home your ex owns that you never knew about, or you find out your ex-husband was making a much higher salary than he claimed. In an article for MarketWatch, writer Quentin Fottrell mentions the story of a California woman who won $1.3 million in the lottery in 1996.

She filed for divorce 11 days later and conveniently forgot to mention the huge windfall to her spouse! Unsurprisingly, her ex-husband found out about it two years later, and he wasn’t happy about it. The judge wasn’t either, and awarded the entire sum to the husband.

If you discover that your husband hid assets during your divorce, your legal options may depend on which state you live in. If you live in a Community Property State (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and possibly Alaska) you can file a motion with the court where your divorce was finalized to reopen the case. Since you were entitled to half of your spouse’s community property at the time of your divorce, you may be able to amend your divorce agreement to take into account the newly discovered assets or income.

It is more difficult to reopen a divorce case if you did not divorce in a Community Property State, but that doesn’t mean you are out of options. You can always sue your spouse for monetary damages in civil court.

Will Your Spouse Be Punished for Hiding Assets?

Judges have a lot of leeway when it comes to determining a punishment for spouses who hide assets. It may be that if you can compellingly prove that your spouse hid assets, the judge will simply order your spouse to give your half of the value of those assets to you. This is what you would have gotten if the assets had been known during the time of the divorce. Of course, some judges like to add a little sting to their rulings against shady spouses.

A judge can make your husband hand over the entire value of the hidden assets to you as a punishment, such as what happened in the case of the woman who hid her lottery winnings from her spouse. If she had been upfront about her windfall, she would have only had to hand over half of it to her spouse. (One more reason why you should never, ever try to hide assets from your spouse during a divorce!)

In the most serious cases, a spouse can even be arrested for hiding assets, though this is usually a last-resort scenario when an ex-spouse still refuses to pay up even after it’s been proven that he hid assets.

If you can, try to find evidence of hidden assets during your divorce, but even if you find out that your ex lied to you years after the fact, you can still go after the money you are owed. Don’t let your ex keep money that you are entitled to!

Want to know what other curveballs you can expect during a divorce? Learn from professionals who deal with divorces every day at your local Second Saturday Divorce Workshop.


  1. Lorraine Daniels says:

    I need legal assistance

  2. Rosamaria Leon says:

    Dio you have a forensic accountant that you would recommend?

  3. Catherine Novobilski says:

    What legal recourse does a spouse have when the male spouse has taken your name off everything in the state of California and files for divorce a community property state ? How can I receive what is rightfully entitled after 12 years of marriage and another 10 years before marriage plus 2 adult children now?

  4. Harriett Baldwin Kelly says:

    What can I do if I found out that my divorced spouse hid a pending lawsuit from an personal injury accident that occurred during our marriage, the accident happened in New York in a apartment complex where he still had his apartment, and we also lived in our home in Cincinnati?

  5. I was married over 12 years and got a divorce and it got ugly dot-dot-dot my ex-husband’s retirement 401K was hidden from me and I know it had to do with his twin sister that my ex-sister-in-law and I did not have a good divorce attorney but the judge was on my side during The divorce and kept asking me to fight but I was taking care of my daddy also at the time plus I’m disabled with my lower back and other problems and so was my ex-husband… His attorney walked out and left him in the courtroom .. yes he did not want to defend him anymore! It’s because I went ahead and agreed to give my ex-husband his interest in our home within 30 days and he still was asking for furniture after that and there was no antique table left that he asked for– this made are divorce here and very complicated but anyway I just wanted to ask what to do because my ex husband passed away a week ago and neither one of us have ever remarry and I have been divorced now 7 years. And so has he… Should I try and recover the retirement that was hidden from me? Because I did give him cash that I really did not have and if it had not been for a car accident I was in I would not have had the money and I would have lost my house… I have been so hurt from all this plus I lost my only child with asthma right before all of this… I know that I am able to draw some type of benefits I just don’t know what else to ask for when I do talk to the Social Security Administration… Can someone please tell me what I deserve… Again my husband has passed away and I do hate that but I have really struggled for the last few years and I just pray that I get everything that I deserve because he would have from me ..

    • If there was a retirement account that wasn’t divided in the divorce, talk to an attorney about whether your case can be opened to divide that overlooked asset, given his recent death. As for social security, once you are 60 or older you are entitled to surviving divorced spouse benefits, reduced because you are collecting before full retirement age.

  6. Sorry for such a long message but if anyone has any advice for me I appreciate it thank you very much God bless

  7. Hi:

    My husband found out that his ex-wife had hidden more than $100,000 before the divorce after he received a taxes return saying that he owed the IRA $60,000 on tax; so, my husband started processing to sue her and then he changed his mind after the lawyer asked her about the money and she told him she gave it to her sister. He didn’t believe it but didn’t want to do anything further at the time because he loved his son so much and thought that his ex-wife would save the money for the boy, so there was no reason to sue her. They also have an agreement that they will pay for the boy’s expense until he is 25 years old as long as he is a full-time student. The boy lived in Canada with her; we live in California. Since the boy found out that his dad will pay for him until he turns 25 no matter what, he stopped talking to his dad. Now, my husband didn’t know anything about him going to college or not; so, he asked his ex-wife to send him all the bills and he will pay for it. But, his wife refused and asked for more (he already spends more than $20,000 a year). My husband told her that he just sent the money when she sent him the bill; she refused and sued him now.

    My questions are can he still sue her with the money she hid 10 years later after he knew it and is it right to ask for the bills?

    • He needs to talk to an attorney to see if he can open up the divorce case to divide those omitted funds, or if it is too late to do so. The attorney can also read the divorce agreement and see what it says about the bills.

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