Finding Hidden Assets during a New Jersey Divorce
The end of a marriage can easily become contentious, especially if there are complications within the legal proceedings of a divorce. The property division process can be especially difficult to negotiate. If you are concerned that your spouse is not disclosing all of the assets that each of you contributed to during your marriage, you need to address this issue immediately.
Finding hidden assets during a New Jersey divorce can lead to a stressful situation, especially if you were not as involved in financial decisions made during your marriage. A family law attorney has the experience and know-how to help you track down marital assets and advocate for your rights to that property during the legal process.
Definition of Marital Assets
In most cases, all property acquired by either spouse during their marriage is considered marital assets under New Jersey law. Certain assets, such as gifts or inheritances, may be excluded, but, under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1, a divorce court will start with the assumption that each spouse made contributions to marital property during the union. These contributions need not be purely financial, as the court will consider homemaking and other actions taken in support of marital property into account.
Finding Hidden Assets
Not disclosing assets during a divorce is contrary to New Jersey law, but it does happen. It may be difficult for one spouse to easily obtain information about the other spouse’s retirement accounts and individual bank accounts. Spouses may also try to change account passwords or login credentials.
The home computer may be a good place to start. Browser history may uncover financial institutions where one spouse may be keeping marital assets. In addition, divorcing spouses who are concerned about their former partner’s hidden assets may want to contact their banks or credit unions to see what they can do to protect their joint checking or savings account.
The mail may also contain envelopes with return addresses from financial companies. Additionally, spouses concerned about finding hidden assets during a New Jersey divorce may want to consider contacting their former spouse’s employers to ask about pension or retirement accounts. Visiting the company’s website and searching for job benefits may also help concerned spouses identify hidden assets.
If one of the members of a separating couple owned a business, it may be important to track down business records to ensure the income and expenses are accurate in a divorce.
An experienced divorce lawyer may also be able to assist in finding hidden assets. They may be able to hire a forensic accountant who is skilled at identifying hidden or undervalued assets.
Dividing Marital Property Under State Law
New Jersey uses “equitable distribution” to allocate marital assets in a divorce. The court will seek to distribute the property in a fair manner by making findings based on various factors such as the duration of the marriage, the current income of each spouse, and the future financial needs of the family members. The court may also award alimony and child support out of marital property proceeds.
Courts may make exceptions to equitable distribution in certain cases, for example, if one spouse establishes that the other wasted or dissipated marital assets. Other exceptions may be made in particularly egregious situations, for example, in cases involving serious criminal acts.
What If the Divorce is Already Final?
Under New Jersey law, if one spouse discovers that assets were hidden during the divorce, they can ask the court to overturn the earlier divorce decision or settlement on the basis of misrepresentation, fraud, or other misconduct.
A New Jersey Attorney Can Help You Find Hidden Assets during Your Divorce
If your divorce has become hostile, you should be vigilant against your ex-spouse’s attempts to hide assets during the property division process. One of our seasoned NJ divorce attorneys could help you find hidden assets and ensure that the rest of your divorce proceeds are divided properly. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about your legal options.