Can secret accounts be found?

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Can secret accounts be found?

I know separate accounts have to be accounted for but if one has an account that the other doesn’t know about, can their attorney find it somehow during a divorce? How about saving cash and holding it in a safety deposit box? I got screwed 24 years ago with my first divorce and ended up needing to file bankruptcy. I don’t want to go through that again just because I’m not the bread winner in the house and struggle to pay bills instead of big shot lawyers.

Asked on July 17, 2019 under Family Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

There really is no good way to find a secret account (or safe deposit box) if the other side is disciplined about not mentioning it, not turning over (even inadvertantly) any documentation of it, etc. In a divorce, you can issue subpoenas to banks you suspect he may have accounts at, and ask them to provide information of any such accounts (or safe deposit boxes), but if you happen to not send the supboenas to the right bank(s), you'll get no information. Or you can hire a "forensic accountant" to go over his income statements, tax returns, and the known bank/brokerage/etc. accounts and see if there is unaccounted for money and possible from "trail" of checks or transfers to see where it went, but this not guaranteed to work and can be expensive--forensic accountants do not work cheap.


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