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Is your spouse keeping secrets in divorce?

You may find navigating a high asset divorce extremely challenging. Most Virginia residents who have been through similar processes would likely agree. A key factor toward achieving a fair and agreeable settlement, however, can be a willingness from both spouses to cooperate and compromise, and also to have full disclosure when it comes to finances and assets. Virginia, like most other states, follows equitable property division laws. So the focus is on a fair division, which isn't necessarily 50/50.

That's all well and good if all involved parties are being honest, but what if your spouse is being deceptive? In fact, what happens if your spouse is purposely trying to hide assets to keep the court from dividing them between the two of you? If you suspect this problem, you should know right up front that such activity is not only mean-spirited; it is illegal.

Combating a hidden asset problem.

Divorce proceedings typically include a phase known as the discovery process, which usually takes place at the beginning of property division proceedings. If you think your spouse is holding back important information or somehow not accurately reporting existing assets, you have the right to investigate the matter. The following list shows potential ways to deal with a hidden asset problem:

  • If you think your spouse is intentionally misrepresenting the value of a particular asset, you could request a professional valuation.
  • If you petition the court for interrogatories, your spouse will have to respond truthfully, and before a designated deadline. Interrogatories include specific questions regarding finances and assets.
  • You could also have your attorney ask your spouse questions about certain assets or financial information during sworn testimony, known as depositions. Your attorney could later use this information during court proceedings.
  • Other ways to spot hidden assets include keeping your eye on your joint bank accounts. Any transactions occurring without your knowledge, especially withdrawals, are cause for concern. If your spouse starts buying or selling big-ticket items, it may have something to do with asset hiding as well.

    When you decided to divorce, you likely just wanted to settle things as quickly as possible and move on in life. When an unexpected problem like asset hiding arises, you may feel frustrated and angry. Remembering that you're definitely not the first person in Virginia to encounter such problems in divorce, and that there are typically several options available to resolve a hidden asset problem, may help you stay calm, rectify the situation and keep the balling rolling so you can obtain your divorce decree and get on with your life.

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