Is your spouse hiding assets?

When Michigan couples begin gearing up for divorce, sometimes things get ugly. One unfair tactic some spouses use is hiding assets to avoid having to share them as part of the marital property division.

Knowing some common signs of such financial deceptions can alert you to potential misconduct before it is too late.

Pushing you to sign

You would not sign a document without first reading it for anyone else; do not do it for your spouse, either. If your spouse tries to get you to sign off on anything, insist on reading everythign carefully. Be especially wary if he or she responds by becoming aggressive or manipulative in pushing you to sign as quickly as possible.

Your signature can mean you give up your share in important assets. If the documents in question relate to tax submissions, you can even end up in trouble for tax fraud. While an innocent spouse exception does exist, its availability can depend on the circumstances.

Cutting off information

Secretive behavior around finances often serves as a red flag for some type of misconduct. Even a spouse who does not do the bills should have access to all financial information, including bank accounts, credit card bills and property documentation. If you notice your spouse has changed online passwords for accounts or that you are no longer getting statements in the mail, he or she may be hiding withdrawals or other manipulations.

Claiming decreased earnings

To prepare for squirrelling away income, your spouse may claim a decrease in earnings. This is more likely when he or she operates a cash business, as W-2 earners have fewer ways to claim a cut. A spending or withdrawal pattern inconsistent with the claimed decrease can indicate deception.

If you notice these signs or more, speak with your attorney before taking any follow-up action. In the eyes of the law, two wrongs do not make a right, so withdrawing funds or hiding other assets in turn can land you in trouble. Your lawyer can help you with legitimate ways to safeguard your interests.