Family law disputes, particularly those involving divorce and separation, often come with complex financial issues. Ensuring a fair division of assets is a critical aspect of these cases. However, it is very difficult to arrive at a fair division of assets where one-party is attempting to conceal or undervalue their assets.
Why Hidden Assets Are a Concern
Hidden assets can drastically impact the outcome of family law disputes. They can distort the financial picture and cause an unfair property settlement.
A person may hide assets to:
- Reduce spousal maintenance or child support payable to the other party
- Minimise property distribution to the other party
- Maintain a lifestyle post-divorce
Methods to Uncover Hidden Assets
There are many methods to undercovering hidden assets.
- Asset Tracing: Assets Tracing can be used to determine the source of the asset and how the asset was used prior to the dispute and during
- Review financial documents: Financial documents may reveal hidden assets. If a person’s spending exceeds their reported income, then they may be hiding assets
- Electronic discovery: Discovery of emails and text messages can reveal hidden assets or intentions to conceal them
- Business Valuation: A thorough business valuation is recommended where the other party owns a business as there may be hidden assets or funds held in the business
- Engage a forensic accountant: Forensic accountants may be used to scrutinise financial records and trace assets that may have been moved or hidden through complex transactions
- Engage a private investigator: Private investigators may be used to gather information and evidence related to hidden assets or hidden income
- If the matter proceeds to Court, asking skilful questions to the other party, financial advisors, and potential witnesses during depositions can reveal hidden assets
Asset Tracing is particularly important in family law disputes. Asset Tracing is critical where assets have been mixed to track the separate components of the asset over the period of the relationship. Indeed, it can be used to determine what assets were acquired or disposed of during, prior or post separation. It can also be used to determine what assets were by nature of a gift, inheritance, bequest and the source of funds used to acquire an asset.
Hiding assets can have serious legal consequences. Courts frown upon such behaviour, and penalties may include costs orders, contempt of court, sanctions, or even criminal charges.
In family law disputes, achieving a fair and equitable resolution is paramount. Uncovering hidden assets is essential to ensure that both parties receive a just outcome. By employing the strategies mentioned above and working with our experienced legal professionals, you can increase your chances of uncovering hidden assets and achieving a favourable outcome in your family law dispute.
To arrange your free initial consultation with a specialist Family Lawyer at Pearsons Lawyers contact us today or call 1300 699 688 and know where you stand.