By Patrick Wright
Divorce can begin civilly but quickly take a turn for the acrimonious, especially when it comes to financial matters. Even when both parties try to be fair, sorting out financial issues at the end of a marriage is difficult. When there is a substantial amount of lying between each party, a divorce can get messy.
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding money from you, it’s best to sort it out before the decree is final. But you’re not out of luck if you discover hidden assets after the fact. Social media can be an asset that can help you amend your divorce agreement after it is signed. This is only the case if you are able to prove that the configured alimony and child support amount is inaccurate based on your ex’s current financial standing.
Do couples really hide money from each other?
Yes, couples who have combined their finances often deceive each other about the value, number, or type of assets they have. In fact, the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) found that one in three adults who had combined money with a partner were on the receiving end of financial deception by their partner. Women are more likely than men to say their spouse lied to them about their sources of income (65% to 47%). 58% of people who lied about their finances admit that they hid money from their former partner.
Hiding your assets from your partner during a divorce has consequences
When you sign a financial affidavit during your divorce, you agree (under penalty of perjury) that you’re being truthful about your financial assets. If your husband or wife lies about the financial assets he or she has, they are breaking the law.
You might think it’s too late to get retribution once your divorce is final, but that is not true. In one landmark case in Michigan, a judge awarded a man’s ex-wife 100% of the found property assets that she discovered after their divorce papers were signed. Texas is a community property state, so judges tend to divide assets equally. Then again, if one spouse is found to be deceitful, a judge may punish the deceitful party by awarding a majority of the property to the spouse who was lied to.
How social media can even the playing field
If you suspect that your ex lied about the financial or real estate assets he had during your marriage, leveraging social media is one of the savviest ways to collect evidence. Your former husband may have blocked you across all social media platforms, but you likely still have mutual friends or family members who can see his profile. You can use your ex’s posts to collect evidence about his financial situation and property ownership. A picture at his or her extravagant home in Vienna can contradict the financial affidavit he or she submitted during your divorce proceedings if you did not know that they owned this property during your marriage. Of course, this house may have been recently bought, but that can also be an indication that your spouse hid money from you during your divorce.
Facebook is a great tool that can help you amend your divorce agreement
You can use mutual friends that you and your ex have and can ask a mutual friend to look for evidence that your spouse still has that boat he or she supposedly sold. You should also use any recent posts to track whether he or she is abiding by other aspects of your divorce agreement. If you discover that your ex has spent money at a casino a day after he failed to make a planned contribution to your child’s college fund, you can take this evidence to a family law attorney. Any social media posts that suggest your spouse has assets that were undisclosed during your divorce could be compelling evidence to that can help you amend your divorce agreement for your benefit.
Patrick Wright is the founder of The Wright Firm, L.L.P. and is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Family Law and Mediation. As a techie, he understands the impact that social media can have on your divorce. Patrick provides vital family law and divorce legal services to those in the Greater Dallas Area.