Good marriages are based on mutual trust, particularly in the area of finances. Unfortunately, you may be wondering if your wife or husband has secret bank accounts. The reasons why people are concerned about the possibility of hidden accounts and assets vary, but the process of searching for these accounts can be emotionally fraught. Seeking professional help is often advisable.
Understand Your Motives
Before you begin to hunt down undisclosed assets or accounts, it's a good idea to establish some goals for this process. Your goals may differ depending on the reason why you think your spouse is hiding assets from you. If you suspect that your spouse is having an affair or is hiding funds before divorcing you, your goals might be to locate the funds so that you can secure your share in a divorce. Or, you may believe that your spouse has an addiction and that she is using funds to pay for things secretly.
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No matter the reason, keep an open mind during your search. Your suspicions may be wrong and no hidden accounts exist. It may also be that your spouse isn't operating in bad faith. According to CNBC.com, some spouses don't feel that having a separate, undisclosed account is necessarily a bad thing. They may also like being able to keep some small spending habits private.
Another possibility is that he might have some concerns about how money is managed in your household and feels a need to keep some assets separate. If this is the case, you might want to suggest meeting with a counselor or financial planner who can help you communicate more clearly about finances and expectations.
Look for Evidence
There are several things that you can do to uncover proof that your spouse has a hidden account:
- Ask your spouse directly: A direct approach saves time and gets the issue out in the open. Your spouse could lie, of course, but she might be happy to clear the air so that the two of you can move forward and decide what you want to do with your relationship.
- Pay attention to mail and ATM slips: While you should never open mail that isn't addressed to you, there is nothing wrong with taking note of mail that is addressed to your spouse and delivered to your home. If you see mail that appears to be from a bank, credit card company or other financial institution, take note of it. As Nolo.com suggests, mail from an investment or retirement brokerage that you are unaware of could indicate that your spouse is diverting funds. Similarly, make note if you find ATM slips lying around and they reference an account that does not belong to you (check the visible numbers on the slip and compare it to your own accounts).
- Review financial statements for joint accounts: Check the statements of your joint accounts, including credit cards. Take note of unusual activity, such as an increase in withdrawals or withdrawal amounts, slowing or accelerating payments on credit card balances, changes in payroll deductions for investment/retirement accounts or transactions that involve wiring funds. These changes could be indications that your spouse is hiding money or using a secret account to manage funds.
Initiate Divorce Proceedings
Initiating a divorce can help you discover whether your spouse has hidden assets or accounts. This is because part of the divorce process involves discovery, a legal process that requires both spouses to disclose evidence and information relevant to the divorce. Your spouse will be required to disclose any financial accounts during this process and could face significant legal consequences, including jail time, if she is later found to be lying, according to Nolo.com. For this reason, your spouse's attorney will advise her to be completely truthful and to disclose any financial accounts.
Wife.org suggests that you could hire a forensic accountant who could review your household finances and help locate hidden accounts, particularly cryptocurrency, which, according to Law.com, is particularly easy to hide. This is a serious step, however, and you should consult with your divorce attorney before making a decision.
- Law.com: Cryptocurrency: The New Frontier for Asset-Hiding in Divorce
- Nolo: Searching for Hidden Assets During Divorce
- CNBC.com: 1 in 5 Americans living with a partner are hiding a bank account or credit card
- Nolo.com:What Happens If you Lie Under Oath During Your Divorce Trial?
- Wife.org: What to Do If You Find Out that Your Spouse Hid Money From You During Your Divorce