Martial assets are getting harder and harder to hide from one’s spouse in an effort to keep from sharing it during a divorce. Those spouses in Massachusetts who attempt to hide their funds in secret bank accounts or “forget” to tell a spouse about a property they own may find that the ruse will not be as successful as it may have been in the past. Electronic discovery is making it much simpler in divorce proceedings to unearth much of the secret activity.
Suspicious husbands and wives have a multitude of resources available — some literally at their fingertips — to figure out what a soon-to-be ex-spouse is up to. Tactics as simple as checking Web browsing history or social media sights can lead to evidence of hidden checking and savings accounts or secret business deals. Some might install tracking software to record every single keystroke their spouse makes, whether it covers stock transactions or cash transfers to a different lover. Smartphone and GPS technology can also show when a spouse has been making suspicious ATM withdrawals.
Legal and forensic professionals are implementing new strategies to collect evidence of foul play in divorces. Because computers track just about everything we use them for, advanced programs can dig up banking information, credit card statements and other information that may come in handy during a divorce. This electronic discovery is booming because more people are using technology to hide the assets in the first place. It’s important that divorcing individuals know, however, that certain snooping tactics are illegal and could lead to legal penalties. Even further, evidence obtained illegally is not admissible in court.
Both parties to a Massachusetts divorce have access to the discovery process whereby both husband and wife are entitled to a fair and open disclosure of individual and marital assets. Free and open disclosure of all assets that have been accumulated throughout the marriage is expected, and when it is not forthcoming, courts can take action to ensure that spouses fess up. The anticipated result is that this information sharing will lead to a fair and complete settlement that appropriately takes into consideration all relevant assets and liabilities accumulated during the marriage.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Hiding Money From Your Spouse Has Gotten a Lot Harder,” Veronica Dagher, April 30, 2012