Divorce is a trying time for everyone involved. Many times, parents become so focused on protecting their children that they overlook other issues. The truth is that you should prioritize your children, but you also need to protect yourself in a divorce. All too often, one spouse makes moves early in the divorce process to take advantage of the other.

One common practice is the attempt to hide assets from the other spouse and the courts. While hidden assets may not seem like a major deal, they can have a drastic impact on the overall fairness of your divorce proceedings. After all, the courts can only divide the assets they know about. In other words, when your spouse hides assets from you, you end up getting the short end of the stick in the asset division process.

How can hidden assets impact your divorce?

Hidden assets can often represent more money than you might think. If the deterioration of your marriage has taken some time, your spouse has had months or even years to hide assets from you. A small percentage of each paycheck over several years could be a substantial sum of money.

However, hidden bank accounts are not the only way that your spouse may hide assets. It is also common for one spouse to begin making purchases that they know the other spouse will not want in the divorce. Buying items for a hobby or a collection that have a high sticker price is one way of hiding assets.

To you, it seems like a normal expense. However, those valuable purchases can mean more of your income ending up in the hands of your ex when you divorce. As such, you should take great pains to ensure you have accurate valuations on all major collections or supplies for expensive hobbies.

How can you determine if your spouse is hiding assets?

Finding hidden assets is not always straightforward. One of the biggest red flags to watch out for is a spouse who hides financial documentation from you. If you never get to see a pay stub or don’t take part in filing your household taxes, those are potential warning signs for a spouse who is intentionally obfuscating the household income.

You should do your best to get your hands on all pertinent financial records before you file for divorce. Those records can make it easier for a professional, such as a forensic accountant, to locate potentially hidden assets. Barring that, you may need to work with professionals to secure documentation about your financial history and the value of the assets you have acquired during your marriage.