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One of the first things that your divorce attorney will likely ask you for is your financial information. This includes your bank account statements, credit card statements, and mortgage documents. In fact, they want to see anything that represents a debt, liability, or an asset to your financial health.
Some couples have shared their financial information throughout their marriage, and others have maintained separate finances. In North Carolina, the courts require equitable distribution of marital property in divorce.
To ensure this happens, there must be full financial disclosure at the date of separation. This disclosure comes from the information that you provide to your attorney.
Financial disclosure occurs during the discovery phase of the divorce. Both sides get access to certain evidence. This evidence includes the debts, liabilities, and assets of both parties. However, there are times when one side may decide not to supply the information.
In this case, the court has the power to compel the party to submit their financial information. If depositions are taken, anyone making a false statement under oath can face serious legal consequences. In some cases, your attorney may hire a forensic accountant to scrutinize the financial documents your soon-to-be ex-spouse has supplied. This can help them to track funds that they might be trying to hide.
However, your certified public accountant (CPA) cannot be compelled to provide evidence to your divorce attorney, or your spouse’s divorce attorney, unless you give instructions that they do so. Your CPA likely has access to your tax documents, which gives an overview of your assets.
According to Internal Revenue Service Code section 6103, your CPA is bound to maintain the privacy of your tax information. This law prohibits them from disclosing information without your written consent, except to state tax authorities or law enforcement agencies under very specific circumstances. For example, law enforcement can access your tax information if the court orders you to allow it.
Your ex-spouse may have hidden property, money, or assets in a variety of ways. For example, you may not know about specific monetary assets or accounts if they set up a paperless statement system or the accounts are held offshore.
Sometimes property or assets can be purchased by friends or family or given to friends or family to keep them out of the divorce. There may be an agreement that once the divorce is finalized, the assets will be returned.
In other cases, foreign accounts could be set up to hide money, or business owners may create fake accounts to divert a portion of their profits. These situations are more common when one spouse has nearly total control over the finances.
For this and other reasons, both spouses should have access to and knowledge of the finances necessary to run the household, and that are part of the marital assets. Nearly all assets or income that a couple acquires during their marriage are considered marital property in North Carolina.
As such, they are subject to equitable distribution in North Carolina. Just as your CPA cannot be compelled to speak to a divorce attorney, neither can your ex-spouse’s CPA be compelled. However, if the attorneys at Marshall & Taylor PLLC believe that your ex-spouse is hiding assets, there are multiple tools within family law that can be used to force them to turn over their financial information. If they refuse, the court can hold them in contempt. This can include monetary fines.
For the court to compel your ex-spouse to produce financial statements, there must be evidence that those statements exist. Our legal team has years of experience helping clients unearth sufficient evidence to identify all marital assets.
We recognize that ending a marriage can cause long-lasting emotional strain and feelings of isolation at the same time that it requires you to restructure your life and finances. We want to make this time as painless for you as possible. We help our clients understand their rights, recognize what they can expect during the divorce process, and provide them legal representation to protect their assets.
If you’re struggling with a divorce or any other family law issue, you want a skilled and experienced lawyer at your side. Our Raleigh divorce attorneys can be trusted to guide you through the tough decisions you must make when you are ending a marriage.
Our attorneys take the time to get to know you and are skilled at conflict resolution, which is often needed during the divorce process. Call the attorneys of Marshall & Taylor PLLC at (919) 833-1040 today. Our dedicated team has the knowledge and integrity you’re looking for.