What to do if your spouse is hiding assets? Let's ask Norma and David Smith

David and Norma Smith’s divorce, New York
I’ve had this post in draft since November I’m ashamed to say but I just never had enough time to get to everything I want to write about on Divorce Saloon. But this story was about a New York couple, married about 30 years and wife got about $50 million divorce settlement. Years later she came back for more. She wanted $12 million because she claimed her husband fraudulently hid a ton of assets in offshore accounts. And she claimed he had other loot like a race horse and a house mansion out in California that he never told her about. This is the link here.
So what does a person do when the husband or wife hides assets? If you have money, you need to hire a private investigator or a forensics specialist, or an asset locator. If you don’t have money, you may be out of luck. But if your suspicions have a basis that goes beyond just your suspicions, you can motion the court for additional funds from your spouse to conduct this investigation. In other words, in the Smith case, even if the wife was broke, the court could have ordered that the husband pay for this investigation if her lawyers made a motion for this financial relief.
In the Smith case, David, the husband, claimed that he never signed an affidavit stating that he didn’t have off shore accounts or the house or the horse. He claims that the agreement they signed off on, aka divorce settlement agreement, never claimed that there had been full disclosure of all assets. And that is fine. If both parties agree to a certain sum as a settlement, it will stand unless one party claims that there has been full disclosure when in fact there has not been. In short, you can’t lie. You have to fully disclose all your assets in your affidavit. If you don’t, then when you enter into the settlement agreement, it has to be clear that it is not based on “all your assets.” If the claim is contrary to that and your spouse is able to prove you lied, that is fraud, and it could void the entire agreement and reopen the divorce. Plus, you may have to pay restitution to the defrauded spouse.
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