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.

28 thoughts on “What to Do If You Find Out that Your Husband Hid Money From You During Your Divorce”

  1. Pingback: What to Do If You Find Out that Your Husband Hid Money From You During Your Divorce | SortStyle.com

  2. Catherine Novobilski

    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?

  3. Harriett Baldwin Kelly

    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?

  4. 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 ..

    1. 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.

  5. 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?

    1. 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.

  6. Hello,
    I went through a divorce 10years ago, I just found that my ex had bought property with another lady . Can I reopen the case? All of this occurred here in the state of California..

  7. What if you found out 2 weeks after signing all divorce papers that your ex and his lawyer were so slick, intelligent, cunning and deceitful in writing up the divorce settlement papers and you spent 8 hours in mediation focusing more on lifetime alimony ( which also I managed to mess that up as well knowing afterwards I could have gotten more money) I was married for 29 years to a middle Eastern man who controlled all the finances. I raised the children as he traveled frequently. I also feel that my lawyer did not go over thoroughly the entire sections in the divorce.. It wasn’t until after that I showed my sister who is an accountant with a large investment group that right away she noticed two words in those papers that changed everything.. “LIMITED ASSETS!”
    He did not put all of his 401 K in there plus a lot more assets that he had.. Oh and btw, 2 years prior to our divorce I found in his briefcase just looking for a stamp that he opened up a checking account in his name only and the address was under his boss’s home address who is also middle eastern and he is also the owner of this multi million dollar aerospace corporation. My ex never bows to anyone but him and he also left his wife after 30 years of marriage and I know he was coached by him and told him what lawyer to hire and what to put in our divorce settlement.. It is now 2 years later. Is there anything I can do about it now?? So sorry for the long message..

    1. I’m sorry this divorce took place in Florida. And also I am not talking just thousands of dollars. That money he put in his boss’s address was over $100,000 and he did not disclose another $700,000 in his 401k, and never disclosed the checking or savings account. I am just as upset with my lawyer at the time as I am with my ex..

      1. Georgina Chavers

        Hi Sharon,

        I feel very strongly about this matter and the need to respond to your questions. I live in CA and my marriage was much shorter although the subject matter is very similar to yours. As long as the law is the same in this area of law as CA, you can absolutely reopen your divorce matter to divide after-discovered assets. In fact I had been divorced for six years before I re-opened mine.

        Unfortunately it has been over two years and my case still sits before the courts, so don’t make the same mistakes I made. As you said not all Attorney’s are the same and your divorce attorney missed a lot of information.

        Before you even start you should gather as much information that can be used against him (evidence), your attorney is not going to do this for you. Did you take a blank check for instance? There’s lots of things online that can help you in this area. Any good attorney will not take your case if it does not sound legitimate and if you don’t have any evidence. You’ll need this to persuade the court to re-open your divorce. It’s one thing knowing your Husband did this, it’s another proving he did. If he and his Boss are good at hiding these things from you and your previous attorney you need to be very thorough and prepared before contacting an attorney. Even gather information on your Husband’s Boss….

        When you look for an Attorney you will still be looking for a family law attorney. Looking for one that has experience in cases like this is key. You ABSOLUTELY need to find someone with experience in the field of hidden (Omitted Assets). I don’t know your Husband’s career but it’s possible that there is tax evasion going on as well. A good Attorney will be able to direct you in the way of necessary specialists.

        Be prepared though it will not be cheap and it will be a fight. Although it will be a huge inconvenience for your ex-Husband and possibly his Boss. I don’t know how it is in Florida but in CA the party with the lower income is entitled to attorney fees. This is something you should check into first and depending on your circumstances have your attorney request some fees up front to get ou started.

        Matter of fact when I reopened mine it was for one company in Florida which multiplied into a global cluster of corporations that had been in the works our whole marriage. This is partly the reason it has taken so long, another is having competent people working for you and finally my ex is fighting me so hard because he knows if he gets caught he has a lot to lose…

        Another lesson I’ve learned is this will consume your time and energy, if you have children beware of that. I really wish you the best of luck, if I can help one person with mine I will feel I’ve made an achievement.

    2. In general, you can reopen a divorce case to deal with any omitted asset that was not addressed or divided. But if you discovered 2 weeks after the divorce was final that the asset wasn’t divided and it is now two years later, that may be a problem. Check with an attorney to see where you stand.

  8. I am in Tennessee. My divorce was 9 years ago. All throughout the divorce, I was told that i had to split everything with him 50/50. For the 9 years that we were married, I made the majority of the money and had received many large gifts from my family, including 14,000 as a downpayment for our house. Throughout the years, I kept asking to get my share of the equity. He would tell me not now because he just paid out a huge amount in house repairs, etc….I was flat broke also after our marriage ended because he would not quit fighting for my money. I evenutally had to get on food stamps to feed my children. Last August, I was finally back on my feet, and he was also, and we had become great friends at this point, and I finally found a house I could buy but needed the money from the house he was living in. Again, he said no. I pulled up the divorce decree to show him that he needs to give me that money..its been 8 years, i think I have been more than accomodating…and have lived in total poverty with my kids….it time…When I pulled up the document, I had to read over 5 times. There was not one mention of me getting anything. I had received 10,500, which was supposed to be a down payment on the equity he owed me, so I could go get an apartent. I have spoken to 18 attorneys who say that its very obvious what he and his attorney did, and I have a great case, but its just too late. And I guess I don’t understand that, because I just found out. I mean, he walked with everything….we are not talking about a lawnmower I didn’t get…I put myself through College and worked my buns off to get the firm I was when I was married and I made great money….(but was fired during the 2008-2009 economic crisis). He refuses to give me any money. I am also sure without a doubt that he did not disclose the total worth of his retirement account, nor other accounts that were in his possession at the time. I can’t live with this…I just cannot live with this result…what can I do? I can’t even get an attorney to try to file suit….Because of what he did, keeping my money from me, keeping me from finding out what he and his attorney had done, I ended up with 2 suicide attempts…going on food stamps was so humiliating and for 8 years of poverty, he refused to give me a dime. …claiming that he was broke…I felt like I had let my children down having to live in poverty like this….Also,, my mother passed away, disinherited my sister and I , and gave millions to her friends…I couldn’t fight because I had no money….he has made me lose so much and he lies and manipulates our children and lets them, and in fact rewards them for disrespecting me….I have to make something happen….I had texted him the night of my 1st suicide attempt and told him I had downed a bottle of pills with a bottle of liquor…and to make the babies understand that they didn’t need a failure in their life…that their dad was doing well and that is what they needed….he has worked for the ambulance service for over 20 years…he was the 1 of 3 people I texted ….he was also the only one who DID NOT CALL 911…come to find out he had taken an insurance policy out on me that would benefit him greatly had my attempt worked…that to me, is so very scary. What can I do?

    1. To my knowledge, one cannot take out a policy on a former spouse unless it is to protect support being paid, so you can talk to an attorney who is familiar with that legal issue to see what you can do to get that policy revoked. As for the other issue, if 18 attorneys say there is nothing you can do, you can talk to another 18, but I’m guessing they will say the same thing.

  9. My husband kicked me out I lies commited perjury lying in the stand. Will judge take this in to consideration since husband made me homeless with no money

  10. I have been divorced almost 5 years. I want to take my ex back for more child support because I believe he wasn’t honest about his income. He and his brother (and retired father) own 3 lumber yards but also have many LLC created. My lawyer did not question his income and I was very naive with everything. I was paying for everything with no help from my parents. I needed the divorce to be over so I could receive child support as I am a school teacher with very limited income. I live in Missouri and am wondering what are my options, if there are any? My income is still limited and I do not have any other assistance with attorneys. I am very worried because of my financial situation I am extremely limited.

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