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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Is your spouse being honest about finances?

In many Georgia divorces, especially those involving extensive and complicated finances, full disclosure is key to achieving a fair division. Unfortunately, some people try to game the system by hiding or spending assets in order to avoid having to share them.

If your spouse is typically the one to handle day-to-day financial tasks such as bills, you may find it hard to stay on top of the flow of income and expenditures. Paying attention to certain red flags can alert you to the necessity of taking a closer look.

Unusual changes in account activity or statements

Changes in the types of account statements you receive can signal deceptive activity. Watch out for regular paper statements that suddenly stop coming to your house, statements from unfamiliar banks and statements with only your spouse’s name on them. Likewise, unexplained activity on your joint account can mean your spouse is siphoning off funds to hide.

Claims of reduced income

Unexplained or unconvincing decreases in income may mean your spouse is diverting part of it into a secret fund. This may be particularly easy to do for someone who operates a cash business. Some business owners may also claim nonexistent expenses, such as salaries for employees who do not exist. You should be especially suspicious if your spouse claims this decrease without making any effort to reduce spending.

Suspicious debts

Another way spouses hide money is by paying off fake debts or other disguised payments to close friends or relatives, with the intention of receiving them back afterwards.

Get help promptly

If you have any reason to suspect your spouse is deceiving you about money, speak with an experienced attorney right away. Your lawyer can explain the best ways to document the deception and minimize the chances of the funds vanishing irrevocably.

Negotiation may not help

While mediation and other forms of ADR can provide many benefits for divorcing couples, these processes tend to backfire when dealing with a deceptive spouse. Unlike a judge, a mediator cannot compel full production of information and has no power to punish deception.