Getting divorced can bring out the worst in some people. It is an emotionally stressful time that may inspire the desire to “win” or beat your spouse in any way possible as you end your marriage. For many people, these feelings can result in a protracted, contentious divorce that the courts must settle.

Texas is a community property state when it comes to asset division in a divorce. Essentially, any and all assets and possessions acquired by the spouses during the marriage are considered to be community property, which is divisible in a divorce. That doesn’t mean that asset division is inherently a 50/50 split, however, and unfortunately sometimes one spouse will try to hide assets to shield them from division with the other spouse. If you believe that your soon-to-be ex may try to hide assets, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. 

Hidden assets range from secret accounts to valuable items.

There are many ways in which a spouse can attempt — unlawfully — to hide something in the weeks or months leading up to divorce. Some people may even begin hiding assets early in the marriage, well before divorce seems inevitable. In some cases, a spouse may open a secret bank or investment account, either domestically or even in another country. Other times, one spouse will make numerous major purchases disguised as part of a collection or a hobby that he or she intends to keep without sharing upon divorce.

Cash hoards are another common means of hiding assets. Some people will withdraw small amounts of money every time a paycheck hits the bank account, while others may make small cash withdrawals while paying with a debit card at retail stores or restaurants to avoid suspicious bank records.

You may need help to track down hidden assets.

When one person takes such great pains to hide assets from another person and the court, it often isn’t easy to locate those assets. For many people concerned about hidden assets, an experienced professional, such as a forensic accountant, can be extremely helpful. An accountant can look over income records, tax statements, bank records and even receipts to determine where assets went and locate hidden funds or valuables.

A forensic accountant can also help you put a value on unusual assets, such as classic cars, collectibles or works of art, which can be worth many thousands of dollars. Knowing the original purchase price may be the easiest way to value these assets. Other times, a professional with knowledge about the value of such items can help you establish the current market value of those items, which may have gone up over time. Locating and placing a price on hidden assets helps ensure that the outcome of the asset division process is as fair as possible in your divorce.

Also, it helps to have a divorce lawyer who has the knowledge and professional resources to investigate these matters and fight to protect your financial future.