When couples get divorced, one party may feel that the other is hiding money, whether it be in an undisclosed bank account, a safe deposit box, or in an offshore account. When this occurs, attorneys have tools we use to identify undisclosed or hidden money.
During a divorce, the parties have the opportunity to engage in a process generally called “Discovery.” During this phase, we issue what is called “interrogatories and request for production of documents” to one another. Interrogatories are essentially questions that are propounded upon the opposing party. It is the opportunity for the parties to ask each other questions to get information that might lead to the discovery of hidden funds. The request for production of documents is exactly what it sounds like. It allows the attorney to ask for documents that may be used to help identify marital assets. Both forms of discovery are commonly used because it is an efficient way to get information. Both parties are under oath when responding to these requests, so lying can carry harsh penalties.
Once an attorney gets the names of the companies that hold financial accounts, an attorney may issue what is called a “subpoena.” A subpoena allows an attorney to request documents or testimony from a person/company for the case at hand. If there is thought to be missing monies, an attorney would subpoena the financial account statements then look at these statements to see where the money went. If the money is going to another bank account that the party has not disclosed, the attorney could subpoena the statements of THAT account.
Continually issuing subpoenas is not always the easiest way to find money. Often, attorneys hire a forensic accountant, who traces the money and can be used as an expert in court to testify about money that a party has hidden. This can be useful in contentious divorces between high earning parties.