Receiving a fair settlement can help you achieve financial stability after divorce. But sometimes this is difficult. Your spouse could feel like the divorce might not end in their favor. If your assets are significant, they may engage in tactics to hide them.

Virginia is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court considers many factors when dividing a couple’s property. These include each spouse’s income, earning potential, lifestyle and health. Hiding assets violates this law, and your spouse could face stiff penalties for doing so.

Know where to look

Suspecting that your spouse is hiding assets is one thing. Finding these assets is another. You might notice money missing from joint checking or retirement accounts. Or their financial figures may not add up based on their income, portfolio and other earnings.

Reviewing your taxes is a great way of finding missing money. Places to look for it include:

  • Deductions
  • Capital gains
  • Capital losses
  • Real estate income
  • Investment income
  • Business profits
  • Business losses

These figures could help provide a more complete picture of your spouse’s finances. And they can help your case if you have difficulty tracking down any individual accounts.

Keep their consequences in mind

Most spouses who hide assets experience legal consequences for their actions. Sometimes this comes through increased spousal or child support payments. Or they may have to pay back half – or more – of the total amount concealed. Yet your spouse could continue hiding assets and refuse to pay what they owe you. In these circumstances, the court may find them in contempt. And they could face jail time as well.

Most people consider hiding assets objectionable. In some cases, it’s illegal. If you suspect or find that your spouse has done so, consulting with a family law professional can help you work toward an equitable settlement.