A recent study has shown that divorce rates for people over 50 has skyrocketed during the last 20 years in what has been dubbed the “gray divorce revolution.” This has two implications for people like us who are tasked with finding hidden assets in divorces. First, couples nearing the end of their careers are more likely to have more and more sophisticated assets than they had when they got married at 23.
Over the course of a 30-year marriage, people have time to buy a vacation home, amass a sizeable 401k, build an antique car collection, or start several companies. They also may have time to funnel money into those companies little by little, or to transfer the condo they secretly own to a relative or close friend. Asset searches in long-term, high net worth marriages can be extremely complicated, and our clients are often astonished to find that the husband they thought they knew so well had actually been adding marital assets to his divorce emergency fund for the last 15 years.
That said, the second implication of gray divorces is that long-term spouses have time to learn a lot of information about one another and often have good clues that can help us find hidden money. All of our matrimonial clients complete a detailed asset search questionnaire before we begin our investigations. We ask our clients to tell us about their spouse’s relationships, employers, hobbies, and favorite vacation spots, among other information.
This can help us find companies where the spouse may have hidden money, properties the spouse may have transferred to a friend or family member, stock holdings, and other income sources that may not have otherwise been readily ascertainable. We would usually be able find the same information the spouse gives us in our questionnaire if given enough time and budget, but it avoids lots of false starts and wasted client money searching for assets she already knows about. The questionnaire allows us to focus our investigations in a way that saves our clients money while providing the most thorough results possible.