diamond ring on money

Finding Hidden Income & Assets

Law Offices of Fisher Wise Feb. 11, 2022

Let’s face it—going through a divorce is hard, even if you’re on relatively good terms with your now ex-spouse. But what happens when you don’t trust them to be honest about their finances? When going through a divorce, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of each other’s financial history for an equitable division of assets. And, with Tennessee’s divorce rate at a higher level than the rest of the country (a rate of 8.5 compared with the national average of 7.6), it’s become all too common for a once-happy marriage to end in divorce. If you’re going through a divorce and are concerned that your spouse may be lying to you about their assets, contact the Law Offices of Fisher Wise for experienced legal counsel you can trust. I’m located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but can help clients throughout the area, including Red Bank, East Ridge, Soddy-Daisy, Marion County, Rhea County, and Sequatchie County.

Division of Assets in Tennessee

Tennessee follows an equitable distribution model which means that in a divorce, marital assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. A couple may decide on their own how to divide their assets, and a judge will nearly always approve this. However, if a couple cannot come to an agreement, then the court can step in (along with attorneys representing each side) to review all the marital assets and decide upon an equitable distribution. To do this, all parties need to know exactly what assets are considered marital.

Commonly Hidden Assets or Income

It’s not uncommon in a marriage for one partner to be in charge of the finances, with the other partner considered the “out spouse” since they don’t have immediate access to financial documents. In this case, it’s extremely easy for one spouse to hide certain assets from the other. One spouse may have opened a bank account, trust, or investment account without the other’s knowledge. They may have also been using prepaid credit cards as a way to make it more difficult to track spending. You may suspect your spouse of having hidden income or hidden assets in cases where they don't want to equitably share assets or want to underreport their wealth to minimize their child support or alimony obligations.

Uncovering the Truth

It’s crucial that you have a complete picture of all the marital assets as you proceed with your divorce, but it must be handled in the right way. You can simply ask your spouse about their assets, but this all too often doesn’t result in a truthful answer. The best thing you can do, then, is to contact a family law attorney who can help you with the process of discovery. “Discovery” is a legal process that allows you to formally request documents from your spouse with the backing of the court. There are a few ways to go about this process that may include demanding specific documents, demanding to inspect property like a home or safe, or requiring your spouse to provide written answers to questions or make a formal deposition under oath.

With the help of your divorce lawyer, you can ensure you’re only looking in areas you have legal access to—but you can and should request access to many different kinds of assets. This could include bank statements, tax returns, deeds, or loan applications, and looking into property such as homes, cars, or safes.

Working with an Experienced Family Law Attorney

If you’re going through a divorce and are at odds with your spouse, hiring an experienced attorney can help. Often, having a lawyer make requests on your behalf can be just the incentive they need to comply. If you’re in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area, reach out to me today to set up a consultation.