Investigative experience has shown in married couples, that in many cases, the wife has less knowledge than the husband about their finances. This is generally a result of our culture. Therefore, upon contemplation of divorce by the wife or divorce threatened by the husband, the wife should gain as much knowledge immediately about their finances as possible. To do so, the wife should gathering and securing the following:
- Register with banks to access accounts online with which she has signature authority. Register her own login and password and do not share the login or password. Obtain copies (preferably in PDF format) of all bank account statements, checks, and deposit slips. Obtain login and passwords for all financial accounts.
- Find out everything she can about the nature of all bank accounts, checking, savings, money market, Certificates of Deposit, Lines of Credit, and loan accounts. (At a minimum, get the bank name and account numbers for safekeeping.)
- Find out about all retirement accounts including 401(k)s, IRAs, SEPs, and pension plans. Secure all the statements available. (At a minimum, get the bank or brokerage name and account numbers for safekeeping.)
- Find out about all investments accounts for stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and secure copies of all statements. (At a minimum, get the bank name and account numbers for safe keeping.)
- Find out about any annuities and determine the beneficiary if possible. (At a minimum, get the entities’ name and account numbers for the annuity for safekeeping.)
- Determine if there are any trust accounts and gather all information available. (At a minimum, get the bank name and account numbers for safekeeping.)
- Determine if gold, silver, platinum, or other precious metals, raw diamonds, or precious stones were purchased. (At a minimum, get the seller’s name and account numbers for the provider of precious metals or stones for safekeeping.)
- Secure a copy of wills and estate documents.
- Secure copies of the past years tax returns for at least five years.
- If there is a safety deposit box, gather the contents for safekeeping or consider taking pictures and safeguard the photos.
- Gather copies of all insurance policies.
- Keep all documents in a safe spot that cannot be viewed or removed.
- Women need to absolutely accumulate a rainy day fund.
After gathering the above information, the wife should hire a reputable attorney with family law experience as soon as possible. She will be required to provide a retainer for the attorney and therefore must have access to funds. As things deteriorate in the marriage, consult with your attorney about accessing a portion of the funds existing in the community bank account before the day of filing for divorce.
The attorney should file a discovery request early on to gain any missing information for the division of the marital estate.
It is important to begin the process of collecting any bad acts of the husband, including police reports regarding mistreatment. The most effective manner of doing this is through a licensed private investigator. Other persons and/or the wife’s attorney should be able to recommend an investigator.
While the divorce is pending, the wife should lead a very clean and uneventful life. Women are often concerned about making their husband angry, since he generally controls the liquid assets, he may even control her activities. Her attorney has to approach the court to direct her husband to pay her money so she can live, pay her attorney and consultants.
Women who have been housewives should place some emphasis on taking some retirement benefits as part of the division of property.
In the event the wife has separate property, property acquired prior to marriage and by gift or inheritance or personal injury claim, she should consult an advisor to determine how to maintain records of separate property to keep the property separate. The law in Texas and other community property states requires proof of separate property, otherwise the property is considered community property.
The wife should not, without legal advice, install spyware, record telephone conversations, or install hidden cameras as these actions can result in civil and/or criminal penalties. If she suspects that her husband has installed devices and is listening in on her conversation, she should consider a consultant that can have her car or home swept for such devices.
Limited spousal maintenance may be awarded in the following circumstances:
1) The parties have been married ten years or longer.
2) The spouse seeking maintenance must show the court she lacks sufficient property to provide minimal reasonable needs or that she is disabled. This is especially important for a woman whose husband throughout the marriage gave her a credit card and a monthly budget. With the budget, she pays the household expenditures and the mortgage. Doing this, she had no opportunity to save funds for a rainy day. In the meantime, the husband is doing what he wants spending and saving funds, creating assets, and possibly concealing those assets. Experience has shown that a number of professional men and business owners put their wives in charge of the household. The wives dutifully carry out their mission only to have the husband meet another woman or the husband decide he wants to be single, and the marriage falls apart.
3) If the wife lacks earning capacity, she should consider obtaining training early on in the separation, so that she will have some job skills because in the long run, she will need to enter the job market.
Divorce does not often bring out the best in people. Wives are angry about the other woman, and the husband is angry because he worked for the assets accumulated and has difficulty sharing them. If you need the assistance of a Private Investigator and Forensic Accountant to assist in marshaling the assets of the marital estate, or wish to find concealed assets, we at Sage Investigations LLC are here to help you and your attorney. We have technology that, with your records, will help us determine your separate and community property. If necessary, we also have the means and ability to prepare a business valuation of your husband’s business.
There is no better firm than Sage Investigations at “following separate property funds” with over 40 years of experience following money. Sage uses proprietary software (DIO) to help develop the full picture of the financial aspects of your case to help structure your future or that of your client. Learn more about assisting you or your clients by contacting Retired IRS Special Agent Edmond J. Martin, Chief Investigator at Sage Investigations, LLC. Email firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.sageinvestigations.com or call 512-659-3179. Thanks to Kenneth Huff, CPA for his input on this article.
NOTE: Please be advised that Sage Investigations, LLC, Edmond J. Martin, CFE and Kenneth Huff, CPA are not attorneys and this article is not intended to provide legal advice.