According to "The Orange County Register," the California divorce rate is about 60 percent. This is 10 percent higher than the national average of 50 percent. Many more couples think about divorce before ever taking such steps as talking to an attorney or hiding property to keep it out of the divorce settlement. In California, community property is defined as "assets acquired or income earned by a married person while living with the spouse." It also includes debt acquired during the marriage. All these items should be distributed equally in the dissolution of the marriage, but sometimes, a person might attempt to get around this law.
Indications to be aware of
Here are signs to watch for that might indicate your spouse is hiding property:
- Using a post office box. This allows a person to get financial documents and bills to a different address. If you are no longer seeing bank statements that you once did, your spouse might be using a different address.
- Giving away or selling expensive items to friends and family.
- Taking luxury trips or going to a country that has relaxed banking laws.
- Claiming that the family business is not doing well or refusing to show you financial documents from the business.
- Refusing to give you passwords to online accounts or changing passwords to keep you out.
- Buying expensive items.
- Being pushy when needing your signature on documents. For example, "Our accountant needs this today," or "You do not need to read it, it is just basic stuff."
- Telling you the computer with important financial information crashed.
Experiencing one of these items alone may be completely unrelated to a divorce. It might be possible your spouse's business is failing or that someone forgot to get papers back to the accountant in a timely manner. However, when things are stressed between a couple and more than two of these indicators pop up on your radar, it would be wise to discuss your options with an attorney.
Get the information you need to protect yourself
Divorce can be overwhelming. You should speak to an experienced attorney to understand your rights and responsibilities. Certain actions can impact your settlement in the divorce. It is important to know what steps to take to lessen the potential for negative financial effects. There are many different ways to work out how the property is divided fairly. Your attorney can help you make sure you do not forget anything in the property division.