Divorce happens for many reasons. If betrayal, infidelity, or lying played a part then you might have a hard time believing your ex in any regard. If this is the case, then you might want to look into your spouse is also hiding any assets.
Is Your Soon-to-be-Ex Hiding Assets?
If you doubt your soon-to-be-ex, you might be wondering if it’s worth hiring private investigators to track down any hidden assets. Using a private investigator might not be worth the money, and chances are, you might actually be able to find all your answers on your own – by looking at information that is frequently tucked away in dresser drawers or filing cabinets.
In most cases, you might be able to glean a good part of what you need from your actual divorce. Typically there are separate schedules submitted with the federal tax returns when you file for divorce. These are called 1040’s and they can reveal a number of things if you know what to look for.
Schedule B. This schedule requires the following be listed: names of mutual funds, brokerage companies, banks and other sources of dividends and interest. At the bottom of Schedule B are questions about the existence of foreign financial accounts and trusts.
The IRS does not require a Schedule B from individuals who receive less than $1,500 in income from interest and dividends. Instead, the IRS requires a list of totals for those kinds of income on the first page of Form 1040. Different rules will apply to taxpayers that have foreign financial accounts and those involved in certain foreign trusts. They must submit Schedule B, regardless of the level of dividends or interest income.
If nothing is listed here in terms of dividend and interest amounts on Schedule B, it makes it harder to discover any concealed investments or bank accounts, but not impossible. This will give you a starting point knowing that interest and dividend income has been listed.
Schedule D. This schedule discloses capital gains and losses from sales of fund shares, individual stocks, and other assets. If the Schedule D reports profits or losses from sales of some stocks, then it’s clear that there have been shares owned and unloaded.
Schedule E. This schedule requires taxpayers disclose income or losses from the following sources: rental real estate (including the type and location) and royalties; estates and trusts; and partnerships and S-corporations, which are companies—taxed much the same way as partnerships are—that pass profits or losses through to their shareholders, who pay taxes at their own individual rates.
This schedule will allow you to track down any of the above in question and ascertain whether it continues to generate income.
As with any property in a divorce, it can be difficult to go your own. That’s why it’s always advised that you work with a family law attorney that is skilled in marital property division. They may just have a few tricks up their sleeve to be able to discover any concealed assets that you have a right to.
Understanding California’s Community Property Laws
Once you and your spouse decide to go your separate ways, you must then decide how the various assets and debts you’ve accumulated during your marriage will be divided between the two of you. Marital property laws vary state by state, but California is a community property state, which means that each spouse is legally entitled to half of the marital estate in divorce, which includes both assets and liabilities classified as community property, or property acquired by the couple during the course of their marriage. One of the only exceptions to this rule is the existence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the terms of which may override California’s equal division of marital property provision. Furthermore, any separate property, including gifts, inheritances or other assets owned by the spouse prior to the marriage, is typically not subject to California’s community property laws.
Cataloging Your Marital Assets and Debts
When you get a divorce in California, you and your spouse will be required to make an exhaustive list of your property, assets and debts, both community and separate. In order to fairly divide what is considered by law to be your marital property, you and your spouse must be honest and forthcoming about disclosing your accumulated assets and debts. Any attempt to hide income or failure to disclose assets may result in serious legal consequences and will only further complicate the divorce and property division process. As you are preparing for the divorce process, it may help to create a preliminary list of your property and assets, so you are fully prepared when asked to present the final valuation of your marital property.
Under California’s community property law, in the absence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you and your spouse will be entitled to exactly one half of what is determined to be your community or marital property. Some marital assets will be fairly easy to divide. For instance, if you and your spouse own two vehicles, each spouse may be awarded one of the vehicles, though there may be some contention here if one of the vehicles is worth a great deal more than the other. In cases such as this, the couple may agree to sell one or both vehicles and split the proceeds evenly. There are many ways in which a divorcing couple can make the divorce process easier and far less messy and contentious, the most important being their ability to agree to the equal distribution of these assets on their own or with the help of an attorney, without going to court.
Handling Property Division Disputes in LA
Unfortunately, there are many types of marital property that are not so easy to divide right down the middle. For instance, the family home, accrued employee retirement benefits, valuable items you received as gifts for your marriage, and family businesses are some examples of community property that is not easily split up. You may both want to keep the family home, or your spouse may want to sell the property and split the profit. It is these types of disputes that a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can help avoid. In the absence of such an agreement, there are provisions in place in California’s divorce code that lay out how splitting up community property that cannot be divided equally should be handled. For example, if your spouse is awarded the family home, California law stipulates that you must receive property that is equal in value to the home. It is in these types of situations that having a knowledgeable Los Angeles divorce attorney on your side is imperative.
Prioritizing Your Marital Property and Assets
The most important thing to do when preparing for a divorce in Los Angeles is taking the time to prioritize your assets so you know what property you own, what you’re willing to give up and what is most important to you to keep. This can help make what would otherwise be an overwhelming and complicated process simpler, more streamlined and less contentious. And even though you and your spouse are preparing to separate, it is still important to be open and honest about your expectations during this process, including what property you absolutely want to walk away with when the divorce is finalized. If you and your spouse are unable to communicate effectively without making matters worse, you may want to consider using a third-party mediator or a collaborative divorce process to settle your divorce.
Couples in Los Angeles who can’t agree on how their property and debts should be divided in divorce will likely end up going to court, where a judge will make the decision for them. Although our attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles typically advise couples to attempt to work with one another to reach an amicable solution to their property division issues, we are always prepared to go to trial on behalf of our clients and represent their best interests before the court. Our lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in all areas of family law, and we can help ensure that your marital property is divided fairly. Furthermore, we can ensure that any separate property or assets you owned prior to the marriage remains under your control after the divorce. Whether you handle your own property division and assignment, or a court makes the decisions for you, there are three important steps to the process:
- Determining whether the property (assets and debts) is marital or separate;
- Agreeing on the value of the marital property; and
- Deciding how to evenly divide the marital property.
Free Property Division Consultation in Los Angeles
For many Los Angeles couples, getting divorced is a chance to be freed from an unhappy or abusive marriage, but having your marital assets divided 50-50 under California’s community property laws may not afford you the financial freedom you expected. For more information about filing for divorce in Los Angeles and how marital property division works, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles. With our legal team on your side, you can safeguard your financial freedom and ensure that your marital assets are divided fairly and equitably. Contact us today at (213) 550-4600 for a free initial consultation.
Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles
5455 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (213) 550-4600