How can I determine if my wife has hidden assets or has a trust established in her name that I do not know about?
Her family is extremely wealthy, and it is likely she has a trust but she refuses to answer my questions about.
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
Typically, parties will engage in the discovery process. This is when you send documents called “Request for Production of Documents” and/or “Interrogatories.”
These documents are requests and written questions that are to be answered and responded to with a certain time period, typically 30 days. The discovery process is very intensive and can produce a lot of documents and information that you would not otherwise have.
Further, the answers must be certified, which means that the person answering the requests is affirming that the answers are the truthful and complete. If it is later found that the answers are not truthful and complete, the person answering could be subject to sanctions by the court as the courts.
In addition to sanctions, if it is later found out that a party purposefully did not disclose and/or hid assets, any settlement entered into may be opened up and re-distributued based on all of the assets.
The discovery process can give you a full picture of the other party’s assets and debts and having the information allows you to negotiate intelligently.
However, as I mentioned previously, the discovery process can be overwhelming in the amount of documents that you receive.
If you are looking for an alternative that is more direct, you can subpoena records from the family and/or financial institution in which the trust may be held. The difficulty with this is that, where I practice, you have to send a Notice of Intent to Serve Subpoena 20 days prior to sending out the subpoena.
This allows the opposing party – or any interested party – to object to the subpoena. If an objection is made, then the matter must be resolved in court and the court will determine if you can serve the subpoena and if the party and/or entity you are serving the subpoena on will be required to provide the information.
In the end, a subpoena could be the more costly and time-consuming route. Also, you will not have access to broad knowledge, as you would through the discovery process.
Release of Information
A final possibility is sending your wife a Release of Information requesting information with regard to any trusts that she may have access to and/or are in her name for her benefit and asking her to sign it. If she does sign it then you can send it to the people and/or financial institution that may oversee any trust.
This is the least certain way to obtain information as your wife is under no duty to sign it, and even if she does sign it, then the person/financial institution is under no legal obligation to provide you with the information.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.