Is your spouse hiding money from you? The ten areas listed below have been used many times. If your spouse has lied to you about money issues, there's a good chance your spouse is hiding money through his or her employment.
Many divorcing spouses that will likely have to pay alimony or support complain about their poor financial situation in the hopes of persuading the other spouse, their lawyer and the court that they simply have no money.
If you believe your spouse is hiding money in an effort to lower child support and alimony awards, you and your attorney should work to uncover hidden income and assets and to prove the actual amount of money available for purposes of support and alimony. The categories listed below will give you a starting point for finding hidden income and assets.
For more information on this topic, see How to Find Hidden Assets in Divorce, by Lina Guillen.
1. Salary deferred until after the divorce
Your spouse may defer a portion of salary until after the divorce. Look for letters or notes asking someone to defer your spouse's income. The past history of your spouse's earnings could also be very telling. If your spouse is accustomed to receiving $50,000 per year in commissions and is suddenly not receiving any, this is a suspicious fact that your attorney can use.
2. Expense accounts and other “perks”
“Perks” refer to benefits over and above direct compensation that a company may offer its employees. Some companies offer very little to no perks, while the perquisites of other companies are so valuable that they almost equal the salary being paid. Some common perks are as follows:
(a) A company car for personal use
(b) Paid parking space
Some companies pay all or a portion of their employees’ monthly parking rates.
(c) An expense account
Expense accounts range from small to large. Your spouse may have an expense account to take customers to fancy restaurants, sporting events, or other functions. Look at the documents to see whether you spouse is taking clients to inexpensive restaurants and keeping a portion of the weekly expense account for him/herself. Your spouse may charge all or most meals to his/her employer, but list them as an expense in the divorce.
(d) Meal allowance
(e) Clothing and uniform allowance
Some employees receive bonuses in addition to their net pay. Look for deals where partial bonuses are paid and the other portion is put into a separate account accruing to the benefit of the employee. Bonuses can be deferred for future distribution. Look for a pattern of bonus payments in the past.
4. Vacation or business trip
Does your spouse’s employer pay for days at hotels when the business part of the trip has been completed? Some employees are allowed to take their spouses on business trips. Check to see whether your spouse took someone else a guest.
5. Vacation pay
If your spouse gets four weeks vacation and only takes two weeks off, he or she may be entiitled to two weeks of additional pay.
6. Sick days/personal days
If your spouse doesn't use personal or sick days, he or she may get paid for the unused days.
7. Stock options
A stock option is the right to buy stock in a company at a reduced rate. If your spouse exercised employee option(s), he or she may be sitting on valuable assets of which you are not aware.
8. Country club and health club
Your spouse's employer may be paying for these expenses.
A common way divorcing spouses increase debts and look “poor,” is to create a loan with a friend, employer, or family member. The loan may be a sham, which never has to be paid back, but it will be listed as a debt in the divorce.
10. Special arrangements with employer
Look for possible signs that your spouse may have a special arrangement with his or her employer. For example, your spouse's employer may pay your spouse a percentage of the company's profits. Also, try to confirm whether your spouse actually owns a percentage of the company and is, therefore, not an employee but an owner or partner who is entitled to additional profits or returns.