What's In This Article
Going through a divorce is never easy, but it can be especially difficult when your spouse isn't being cooperative. But, you may wonder, do you have to show bank statements in divorce?
The answer is yes.
One of the most important things you both must do during the divorce process provides a clear picture of your financial situation.
Unfortunately, this can be tricky if your spouse isn't willing to give information on their income, debts, and assets.
Here are some tips for what you can do in this situation.
An Overview of Requesting Financial Information During a Divorce
So, do you have to show bank statements in divorce? Yes. Spouses in a divorce proceeding must provide financial information so the property can be divided fairly. Not all states govern the distribution of property in the same way.
Even in states where the laws are simple, some nuances shape how a divorce is settled. Therefore, you and your spouse should reveal the total picture so that attorneys can help you negotiate a fair settlement.
What Are Attorneys Looking for When They Review Bank Statements?
Attorneys in a divorce case review bank statements, tax records, and other supporting documentation to identify each spouse's income sources.
These income sources will help determine how the divorce will settle, how alimony payments are made, and any child support that may be applicable.
It is important to have these income sources firmly established before going further in the divorce proceedings. But when they are not being provided by either side, lawyers must explore other ways to get information.
Why Would a Spouse Hide Their Financial Information?
A spouse may want to keep their financial information a secret for several reasons.
Avoid Paying Alimony or Child Support
Alimony payments, also called spousal support payments, are payments made by one spouse to the other spouse after a divorce has settled.
Child support functions similarly to supporting children. Some people hide income to avoid receiving higher alimony or child support payment requirements.
Hide Evidence of an Affair
Financial records can become evidence of an affair.
For example, a spouse may hide transaction records that reveal secret trips that have been taken or a pattern of lunches or dinners, or in cases where the unfaithful spouse is giving money to the person they are involved with.
Bitter divorces have one or both spouses refusing to cooperate with the other out of spite. They may resort to hiding financial information to withhold financial support from the other spouse.
A spouse may hide financial records during a divorce to avoid paying taxes. Or, they may want to hide the nefarious activities they are involved with.
When Your Spouse Won't Provide Financial Information
If you're dealing with a spouse who won't provide financial information, remain cordial about it. If they do not provide this information by your request, you can turn to your legal team to assist.
The courts are on your side concerning this. All states have laws determining how property is distributed in a divorce. They will either be community property states or common-law states.
Nine out of 50 states are community property states. A community property state identifies all assets owned by either spouse as equally owned by both spouses, with some exceptions.
People who have entered marriage with existing assets may be tempted to hide these assets in a community property state.
Common law property laws in a marriage direct that the property and assets of each spouse before the marriage are not the property of the other spouse.
Therefore in a common law state, a spouse may not have a right to property that's not titled to them, including bank accounts that existed before the marriage.
Because of this, the secretive spouse may feel valid in their efforts to hide financial information. However, this is not as black and white as it sounds.
The divorce proceedings will evaluate all this for you because property can easily become marital property based on certain factors. The judge will give an equitable distribution that is fair for all marital assets.
Read More: How Long Does an Online Divorce Take?
Using the Court To Force Your Spouse To Provide Financial Information
Your legal team will know what to do if you suspect your spouse is hiding financial records. The beginning of your divorce proceedings will begin with a process called discovery. Discovery allows each party to a lawsuit to obtain information from the other side.
The Discovery Process
The information that each party must provide to the other is governed by the rules of civil procedure for the particular jurisdiction in which the case is being tried.
In general, the purpose of discovery is to allow each party to learn as much as possible about the other side's case before trial. There are different types of discovery, but the most common are written discovery and depositions.
Written discovery includes requests for documents and interrogatories(written questionnaires). For instance, with a divorce, financial statements, property records, and any other documentation that reveals owned assets are a part of written discovery.
This discovery is mandatory discovery. Mandatory discovery is discovery that both parties must supply.
After your attorney reviews all written discovery documents, and if there is still reason to believe the spouse is hiding records, they will request a deposition. Depositions are oral questions asked of a witness under oath and documented.
Your attorney will use a deposition to pressure your spouse to reveal all of their financial assets. However, remember that lying in a deposition is illegal and would cause legal issues for a spouse who lies about financial information under oath.
Subpoenas and Other Legal Demands
Your attorney also has subpoena power to force records to be revealed. If a financial institution is subpoenaed for transaction records, it must provide them.
Read More: 13 Reasons Why Divorce Is So Expensive
Get a Strong Divorce Attorney
Divorces have many difficult parts to it and can become contentious easily, which makes hiding financial information more likely. However, an experienced divorce attorney knows how to navigate these hurdles to ensure you receive an equitable settlement.
So, now that you know you have to show bank statements in divorce, but you believe your spouse has more financial assets than what is revealed, share this inkling with your attorney immediately.
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure.