In order to make an equitable distribution of assets pursuant to a Michigan divorce, it’s necessary for a court to consider all marital assets owned by the couple. Sometimes a spouse may be tempted to hide assets as the marriage breaks down and divorce appears likely, so this property won’t be considered in the final divorce decree. However, it’s illegal to hide assets in order to affect the disposition of marital property; in fact, there are harsh consequences for doing so. Still, how do you find assets if you don’t know where they’re located – or if they even exist? Fortunately, state law provides strategies for uncovering assets and a Michigan divorce lawyer can help you ensure a fair distribution of marital property.
Using Discovery to Find Hidden Assets
Parties in a civil lawsuit or criminal case use the discovery process to find out details from other parties, and these same rules apply in a Michigan divorce case when you are trying to uncover information about any assets your spouse may be hiding. Discovery methods fall into two categories.
- Written Discovery: When you seek turnover of documents, including electronic records, you may recover the paperwork by using:
- Interrogatories: This type of discovery involves written questions that are submitted to your spouse, which are required to be answered within a stated amount of time. Your attorney can use Interrogatories to ask about the existence and location of assets, so they’re effective in uncovering information. The answers are sworn to under oath and under penalty of perjury, so there are consequences for dishonesty.
- Requests for Product of Documents: When you want the actual documents related to the assets your spouse may be hiding, you can use Requests for Production of Documents. Examples of paperwork you might request to find hidden assets would be bank statements, tax records, deeds to real estate, or titles to vehicles.
- Issuance of Subpoenas: When you want the actual documents you can send a request or subpoena directly to a bank, employer, or other entity that has possession of the documents requested.
- Depositions: A deposition is a question-and answer session where your attorney interviews your spouse about property owned by you, whether as marital property or non-marital assets. Depositions are conducted before a court reporter, who chronicles all of the proceedings in writing and takes an audio recording. At the beginning of the deposition, your spouse is sworn in to testify under oath. There are severe penalties for failure to tell the truth, which amount to perjury under the law.
A Dedicated Michigan Divorce Lawyer Will Help Recover Hidden Assets
Michigan law requires a fair division of property between divorcing spouses, but this isn’t possible when one member of the couple conceals assets from the other. You do have rights to this property, and there are strategies to help you recover hidden assets; however, the rules regarding discovery are quite complicated. An experienced lawyer can assist you with written and oral discovery so that any hidden assets can be reported to the court and considered in property distribution and/or support award. Attorney Michael A. Robbins will aggressively pursue your interests if you believe your spouse has mishandled property in connection with your divorce, so please contact our Bloomfield Hills, MI office to discuss your situation.