Your former spouse disappears for weeks on end, telling you that she’s been travelling for business. You suspect that she is really dissipating marital assets by jetting off to Paris or Napa, her favorite spots for a romantic getaway, and taking her new beau along for the ride.
Vacations are expensive, so evidence of a trip should appear in the debtor’s financial records. For example, if you have access to the debtor’s bank records, look for large cash withdrawals around the time you think she was preparing to go away.
Credit card records may also prove helpful. Plane tickets and rental cars are generally reserved and paid for with a credit card, and those charges would appear on an itemized statement. Also look for charges at restaurants or gas stations, as credit card records will show not only the amount of the debtor’s charges, but also where those charges were made.
An absence of charges to a joint card that the debtor usually uses on a daily basis can also be telling. If you see a gap of a week or two in spending, this could be evidence that she is using cash to avoid leaving a paper trail of her trip. If this is the case, check for suspicious charges immediately prior to when she left. Even if your debtor is smart enough to avoid putting a suite at the Four Seasons on the joint card, she may have slipped and bought a new suitcase or other travel accessory prior to her departure.
If the debtor claims to be travelling for a business she owns, look at the debtor’s tax returns from the time she took the “business trips, “ and see if the amount she deducted for business travel expenses matches up with the number of trips she took the previous year.
Beyond financial records, look for evidence around the house. Has a new passport come in the mail? Are there travel sites on the browsing history of the family computer? If she says she is travelling for business, check to see whether she packed business suits or just shorts and flip flops.
If you own a vacation property and you suspect that she may have taken her paramour there, call local bars and restaurants where the owners know you. Tell them that you urgently need to speak to your wife, and she is not picking up her cell phone. Ask if they have seen her lately. They may even tell you whether they saw her canoodling with a companion.
Finally, if you know who the debtor’s paramour is, you can call and ask for him at work while you think he is away on vacation. Say you have an urgent delivery for him that he has to sign for, and you need a fax number where you can send him an authorization form to sign. This approach is more likely to get you the name of a hotel than just the paramour’s cell phone number.