The Place to Begin Your Search for Hidden Assets and Income at Divorce is with Your Spouse's Case Information Statement
I previously wrote about being invited to speak at the 31st Annual New Jersey Child Support Training Conference. My talk was on Finding Hidden Assets and Income in a Divorce case. Today we will examine one of the topics I covered at the conference; searching for inconsistencies in financial documents. A spouse trying to hide or conceal assets or income during the divorce process is not that uncommon. Ultimately, a spouse that is hiding income or assets is trying to prevent the other spouse from receiving a fair settlement. To protect yourself and your future financial well-being, you must be prepared to analyze financial documents and asked questions. The most basic of analyses begins by comparing the parties respective financial disclosures. Virtually every jurisdiction in the United States requires parties to a divorce to file a financial disclosure. In New Jersey, the financial disclosure is known as the case information statement or “CIS”. In comparing the parties CIS's, the first question is, “Do the assets and liabilities match?” This is a relatively easy comparison to undertake because the CIS has discrete sections for assets and liabilities. Furthermore, the parties completing a CIS are required to disclose assets titled in their name, titled in their spouse's name, and jointly titled assets. The fact that an asset may be exempt from equitable distribution does not mean it should not be disclosed on the case information statement. To the contrary, the asset or liability should be identified on the CIS and noted as exempt from equitable distribution. If your spouse has not disclosed all other assets on their CIS, the do not be afraid to ask why through to the litigation process. It is not uncommon for people going through divorce to have a primary interest in finding a hidden asset. However, illegitimate or phantom liabilities can lead to a reduced equitable distribution in a divorce. Be sure to compare the disclosed liabilities. Does your spouse have a liability on their CIS of which you were previously unaware? Again, do not be afraid to ask questions regarding the stated liabilities on your spouse's CIS. If you find a suspect liability, consider asking the following questions:
- Why was the liability incurred?
- Is there any documentation to support the liability?
- What are the repayment terms?
- Is there a payment history for the liability?
- How were the payments made?
- From what accounts or the payments made?
- Was the liability incurred to purchase an asset?
- Is the asset that was purchased listed on the case information statement?
The above is just a list of some of the types of inquiries you may wish to make. The list is far from exhaustive. It is important to remember that when you find an inconsistency or have a suspicion about an entry on a case information statement, you should always ask questions until you receive a satisfactory answer. A small inconsistency can be the starting point for series of questions that could lead to the discovery of a large hidden asset. At DeMichele and DeMichele, we assist hundreds of clients in determining what is rightfully theirs in equitable distribution. If you have any questions regarding hidden assets or income in a New Jersey divorce, the tracking of assets or income in a New Jersey divorce, or have any other general questions regarding marital assets or equitable distribution, please contact us online today or call (856) 546-1350 for a confidential consultation with one of our skilled equitable distribution lawyers.