Over the years, we have discovered that people can be very inventive when it comes to hiding away their assets during a divorce or when filing for bankruptcy. There are many options available and people who want to safeguard their money will go to great lengths.
In this post, I discuss the common types of asset searches available online, why they are usually not worth the money, the three types of genuine asset searches we usually provide, what’s included in these searches, how they work, and what to do if your spouse has set up a secret divorce account.
Ask Men recently posted about how some men have attempted to hide assets and open hidden bank accounts before filing for divorce.
The article gives men many different examples for how they can hide assets, including:
- Setting up financial accounts overseas
- Opening accounts under the name of someone else
- Putting cash in a safety deposit box
Not all asset searches are the same
At Martin Investigative Services, one of the services we commonly perform are comprehensive asset searches. Asset searches mean different things to a variety of people.
Unfortunately, the Internet is very confusing for the public, attorneys and our court system, and there are many wild claims of nationwide search services that range in price from $50.00 to $10,000.00. Many of these services are of little value, and many contain only information that could have been easily obtained online. In many cases, the information broker or private investigator will simply not even do the work and report back that there was “no record found.”
What real asset searches contain
Let me explain the “asset search” world in simple and straightforward terms. There are basically three different searches we perform.
First, there is a basic background/asset search for any United States resident. The comprehensive report contains (but is not limited to) the following:
- Twenty year address history
- Obtaining or confirming subject’s Social Security Number and Date of Birth
- Social Security Number or Date of Birth being used other than their own
- Name of anyone using their Social Security Number including their address
- Nationwide Property Search
- Nationwide Consumer Public Filings Search which includes bankruptcies, notice of defaults, judgments, tax liens and problems with the IRS
- Corporate and Limited Partnership information
- Uniform Commercial Code index information
- Civil (Plaintiff and Defendant) and Criminal (Felonies and Misdemeanors) records
- Fictitious Business Name index
- Professional Licensing
- Name, addressees and phone numbers of neighbors and businesses for interview purposes
Second, we perform Statewide and Nationwide Bank searches.
Third, we perform Statewide and Nationwide Securities searches.
Compliance with the law
We are fully compliant with the Graham, Leach, Bliley Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. There are strict rules, regulations and guidelines that are affiliated with these searches. You must have a legitimate reason to request a search, which any competent private investigator can discuss with you.
How it works
Even the most secretive of people leave behind paper and electronic trails that show exactly where our assets travel. We are fortunate to have access to a proprietary database which contains public data that is purchased from cities, counties and States throughout the United States. Using this system and others professional data mining and proprietary data sources, we can sift through many different types of information which lead us to a person’s assets. In a divorce case, both sides have to actually declare their current assets and submit to the court. A common error in these cases is often that is accepted as “gospel.” Keep in mind that the forensic accountants only add, subtract, multiply and divide what they are given. They do absolutely no digging for assets. A good rule of thumb whether your case is in the millions of assets or just “a pots and pans” case to be divided, always have someone conduct the basic asset search describe about. Consult with you attorney and investigator regarding the additional bank and securities searches.
What if my husband has set up a divorce account?
If your husband has secreted away hidden assets that should rightfully be divided with you, there is a good chance that there are legal options available to you.
First, you will need the help of an experienced private investigation firm, to provide you with court-admissible evidence that the funds exist. Second, you will also need the legal advice and representation of a qualified attorney, which we can refer you to. The single most important decision you will make in your divorce proceedings is who you select as your attorney. We often turn down casework because the client has an attorney not in the top 1% of family law lawyers. We do the work and they don’t know what to do with our work product. Why even bother and waste the client’s hard-earned money.
As the Ask Men article explains, husbands who choose to open these secret bank accounts, or otherwise hide assets, can face serious consequences. They also remind men that many States do not have statutes of limitations placed on divorce settlement rulings. These rulings can often be revisited.
If you suspect your partner of hiding assets, gut feelings are usually correct. You can call a professional private investigation firm, such as ours, to discover the proof you need.