Divorce Attorneys Helping Victims of Financial Infidelity
As a marriage heads toward a bitter divorce, one or both spouses may point to a lack of marital fidelity on the part of the other as being a key factor in the breakup. Spouses should recognize, of course, that there is at least one additional type of infidelity – the kind that deals with finances. Indeed, financial infidelity can be almost as troublesome and debilitating as that of the physical kind. Consider, for example, one sobering study sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education in which researchers determined that nearly one-third of Americans admit to financial deception when it comes to shared finances with their spouse.
One is, of course, left to ponder how many persons have practiced financial infidelity and yet won’t admit their transgression. If you suspect financial infidelity, what should you do?
Washington is a Community Property State
Like many states on the West Coast, Washington is a community property state. In essence, it means the court will divide marital property (as well as liabilities) in a just and fair manner and, in most cases, without regard to misconduct. The court makes the division with a number of factors in mind, including:
- The length of time the couple has been married
- The nature and extent of the separate property
- The nature and extent of the community property
- The general nature of each spouse’s economic circumstances at the time when the property division becomes effective
Of course, the court cannot order a division of an asset unless its existence is known. Determining whether there are hidden assets can take time and effort.
Are You an “Out-Spouse?”
If your spouse handled the family’s financial affairs and you played little part in tracking things, you are what some family law attorneys call an “out-spouse” – someone who has been essentially out of the loop. If that’s the case, you need to be extra careful. You need to get a copy of virtually every kind of financial document possible, including:
- Bank statements
- Investment accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Tax returns
- Powers of Attorney
Some Spouses Refuse to Turn Financial Information Over Voluntarily
Some spouses turn financial information over on a voluntary basis. Others do not. Even if you receive an avalanche of forms and information from your soon-to-be “ex,” that doesn’t mean that they are complete. If your spouse has been secreting funds for some time, that fact may be difficult to determine. Specialists, such as forensic accountants and experienced family attorneys, are often needed in those instances.
Courts Can Order Delivery of Information
Experienced legal counsel can use the discovery process provided for under Washington law to gain access to information that the other spouse may not voluntarily release. While the spouse may feel empowered to ignore your own request, he or she will not be so quick to violate an order of the court.
Divorce is Serious Business; Get Skilled, Serious Representation
Divorce is emotional. It is nerve-wracking and painful. It’s also serious business. If you are contemplating a divorce – or if you suspect that your spouse has hidden assets from you, you owe it to yourself (and to your children, if any) to retain skilled legal counsel to represent your interests. This isn’t a time to go it alone. Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S. has more than 30 years of combined experience providing quality family law services to individuals throughout the Pacific Northwest. We can be as aggressive as is necessary. If there’s a simple solution, that’s our first choice. We work closely with you to resolve matters quickly and economically. Contact us on the web, or call our office at 253-272-2997.