Going through a divorce in Columbus, Ohio means that the court will classify all assets and debts as marital or separate (non-marital) property, and it will divide all marital property based on the terms of equitable distribution under Ohio law. But in order for a court to accurately classify all property, and to fairly distribute all debts and assets from the marriage, both spouses must disclose all property. In some situations, a spouse will attempt to hide or conceal property to prevent it from being distributed in a divorce case. If you have concerns about concealed assets, you should seek advice from a Columbus divorce lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you receive an equitable distribution of marital property. In the meantime, the following are some steps you can take.
Locate Documentation for Assets and Income
You may recognize that your spouse has attempted to hide or conceal assets by locating documentation for all assets and income during your marriage. Receipts, appraisals for property, investment statements, and bank account information can reveal assets that have not been properly identified in the affidavit of property provided by your ex. Other documents, like tax returns, may also reveal that your spouse has paid taxes on more property or income than what has been disclosed to the court.
Hire Your Own Appraiser
Sometimes your spouse might not conceal an asset but instead may attempt to hide the real value of an asset. In such situations, your spouse might be working with an appraiser who significantly undervalued an asset so that your spouse can more easily negotiate to keep it during the divorce without giving up other valuable property. You should speak with your divorce lawyer about hiring an appraiser who can make a determination about the value of the property. If your appraiser comes up with an estimate that is significantly higher than your spouse’s appraisal estimate, the court may require another appraiser to consider the value of the property.
Work with a Forensic Accountant
In most divorce cases where one of the spouses has concerns about hidden or concealed property, it is essential to speak with a Columbus divorce attorney about working with a forensic accountant. You can include a forensic accountant in your divorce team, and that forensic accountant can locate assets that may include real property, tangible and intangible property, bank accounts and investments, and even businesses that have not been properly accounted for in a divorce. Forensic accountants can also investigate reported income information to identify situations in which a spouse has underreported income or has provided false information about debts.
Contact Our Columbus Divorce Attorneys
If you have any questions about hidden or concealed assets, or if you are concerned that your spouse has not been honest in identifying and describing property, an experienced divorce attorney in Columbus at our firm can assist you. We can speak with you today about working with an appraiser or a forensic accountant, and we can provide you with more information about hidden or concealed property in Ohio divorce cases. Contact the Lawrence Law Office for more information.