It is not unusual for a spouse to have independent finances that the other spouse does not know everything about. While the couple may not have seen this as a big concern during marriage, once they decide to divorce, it becomes very important. Full disclosure of each party’s finances is essential to a divorce case. Such information is needed to determine division of marital property and spousal and child support. If you and your spouse were not transparent during marriage, it may be difficult to know whether you are getting complete information now. What happens if you think that your spouse is not being forthright? How can you obtain his or her financial records in divorce?
Where a spouse may not be complying with requests for financial records, the other spouse may obtain a court order that requires the non-compliant spouse to produce documents pertaining to the case. These documents can include bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, insurance policies, mortgages, loan documents, and other records.
In addition, a spouse can subpoena a third party with relevant financial information. This includes individuals and companies such as accountants, financial advisors, employers and financial institutions. There are added benefits to going directly to a third party holding such records because they may be more accurate, organized and complete than the spouse’s documentation. For example, most financial institutions in New York hold 7 years of records.
However, it can be difficult to subpoena records for accounts that you don’t know exist. As a result, it may be useful to hire a forensic accountant. Such an expert can help determine if money is being hidden or funneled to an unknown account. A forensic accountant can also trace the spouse’s personal and business income and audit expenses in order to uncover possible fraud or other questionable activity.
Since looking for information after the fact can be time-consuming, it is a good idea to try to be proactive. If you are considering divorce, make copies of any financial documents that you have legal access to, take photos of valuable items, and otherwise document separate and marital assets, debts and expenses.
Dealing with financial issues in divorce can be contentious especially if one side is not being honest. Discuss any concerns and suspicions with your attorney to help ensure all assets are found. If you are considering a divorce, contact us for guidance on how to get the best result in your case.