A couple had seven different bank accounts when they were married, but the wife never kept close tabs on them. Now the husband is using money from a joint account that the wife doesn’t realize is still open.
Bank records are like medical and cell phone records: you can get them without a subpoena, but you could go to jail for doing so. Calling a bank and pretending to be the debtor in search of his bank balance is simply not allowed under federal law. Still, a debtor makes a mistake by underestimating the resourcefulness of a spouse who thinks she’s being robbed. We had a client who was able to go over a list of “old” bank accounts with her bank manager, only to find that joint accounts she thought had been closed (because her husband told her they had been) were in fact still open and active. As a joint holder, she had access to those records. We then went to work looking at payees and other information.
Another client was able to figure out the presence of undisclosed accounts because her husband had backed up his smartphone on the family computer before moving out. As a jointly owned computer, we were allowed to look at it and discover text messages that referred to an account at a particular bank.
Finally, for clients still living with their estranged spouse, valuable information is often lying at the bottom of the drawer. One client discovered an old bank statement that referred to an offshore corporation controlled by her husband, and we then determined that the husband was taking an extra “consulting” fee from his public company without disclosing it.
Craig W. Sampson, Esq. of Barnes & Diehl PC in Richmond:
The person hiding the funds does not have to make it factually impossible to locate them; he only needs to make it financially untenable for the opposing party to keep digging. Sometimes the best way to proceed is not by looking for the money itself, but rather by tracking what money is being spent. If the person’s expenses for mortgage(s), vehicles, credit cards, private school, etc. greatly exceed the amount of income that the person claims, then it becomes obvious that there is a failure to disclose.
If you are concerned that there may be additional accounts that are not being disclosed by the other side, send a subpoena to all of the banks in the area and request information on all accounts in that person’s name. With a little luck, not only will you be able to convince a court that the person is lying about his assets and income, you might also be able to uncover where those assets are hidden.