Going through a divorce is stressful for more reasons than one. This stress is even more apparent when you discover that your spouse is cheating and hiding assets from you. What should you do?

First, some background: During the divorce process, both people are required to disclose all of their assets and liabilities to each other and the Court. This gives both spouses and the Court the full financial picture before deciding who gets what.  In Ohio, the Court will divide the marital estate equitably which is 50/50.

When a spouse decides to hide assets, they’re usually doing it because they fear the court will take something they feel should be “theirs” and give it to the spouse or they are so greedy they don’t believe their spousal is entitled to an equitable division of marital property as is called for by Ohio law. Based on fear or greed, they hide it, refuse to disclose it, have friends or family take temporary ownership of it, or even transfer assets to a corporate entity (like a limited liability company (LLC)).

Other examples of hiding assets include:

  • Transferring money out of a bank account without telling you
  • Underreporting cash earnings or income
  • Lying about the liquidation of assets, like not disclosing something or telling their spouse they sold something when, in reality, they still posses the item.
  • Small business owners claiming non-business expenses as business expenses
  • Hiding cold hard cash

When the in the dark spouse finds out or suspects that there are hidden assets or income, it can lead to resentment, conflict, additional discovery and expense in the divorce proceedings. Hiding assets or income during a divorce in Ohio is potentially breaking the law.

What You Can Do

If you’re in this situation, the first thing you should do is gather as much proof (admissible evidence) as you can. Get copies of you and your spouse’s bank account statements, copies of cancelled checks,  tax documents like W2s and 1099s, and/or photographs of unexplained assets like motorcycles or cars.  Pay attention to online accounts like Venmo and PayPal.

How can you gather these documents? You can copy and take pictures of anything that is lying around the house.  Once a divorce is filed, you are allowed to request information from your spouse’s employer or bank by way of a subpoena. Compile as much evidence as you can that supports your claim that your spouse is hiding assets or income before any confrontation. Do not let your spouse know that you are suspicious or attempting to compile proof.

Next, bring your stockpile of evidence to your attorney. Your legal counsel can help you deal with hidden assets or income and file for judicial protection. Oftentimes lawyers and their financial teams have creative ways (like discovery requests and forensic investigations) to help uncover hidden assets and income. Rely on these experts to get the job done.

Hiding Assets or Income in Ohio

With the right family lawyer by your side, there’s no need to worry about what to do. Your attorney will work with you to file all of the necessary discovery and follow the correct steps to ensure the hidden assets and income are uncovered and your divorce proceeds fairly. Once you and your attorney can prove to the court your spouse was hiding assets, the judge can order that your spouse pay for your share of the hidden assets. For example, if the hidden asset is worth $5,000, the judge can mandate that your spouse pay you $2,500 or more.

According to Section 3105.171(E)(5) of the Ohio Revised Code:

“If a spouse has substantially and willfully failed to disclose marital property, separate property, or other assets, debts, income, or expenses as required . . . the court may compensate the offended spouse with a distributive award or with a greater award of marital property not to exceed three times the value of the marital property, separate property, or other assets, debts, income, or expenses that are not disclosed by the other spouse.”

Going through a divorce in Ohio can be complicated and stressful, and disclosing assets and income is an integral part of the process. You and your spouse need to be 100% truthful in what you disclose, or there will be serious consequences.

Don’t hesitate to reply on your attorney for advice, support, and guidance. That’s what your legal team is there to do.

Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer

The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline LLC is honored to work with both traditional and non-traditional families to assist them through extraordinarily difficult times. Please contact us with any questions.

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