The process of reaching an equitable distribution of marital property in a Florida divorce entails full disclosure of the assets by both parties. When one party seeks to hide assets or income, this can jeopardize the court’s ability to structure an equitable property distribution. The risk of having assets hidden or diverted to a family member or paramour has become greater with evolving electronic communication technology. Communication with an illicit lover can obviously be accomplished through social network pages, email and text messaging. Gifts and cash may be funded by setting up PayPal accounts or secret bank accounts electronically and depositing cash siphoned off from marital income sources, such as businesses.
Despite the ease of diverting marital assets and income with these electronic tools, it is now easier than ever to track down such improper transactions. At the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A., we routinely engage in electronic discovery to identify hidden assets or income streams that our client may not have known existed. State of the art electronic discovery tools allow us to search thousands of pages of bank records or other financial documents in minutes to identify transactions that do not look kosher. Depending on the size of the marital estate, our law firm will utilize forensic accountants to make every attempt possible to track down any suspicious transaction.
While some spouses believe that deleting files and their web browsing history will prevent detection when they waste marital assets, the reality is that most actions on a computer leave an “electronic/digital footprint” that we can use an expert to recover. Some spouses detect such inappropriate use of marital assets on their own by checking their spouses internet search history or using keystroke loggers that allow a spouse to see everything that their spouse has done while on the Internet.
With so much of our everyday communication and financial transactions conducted online, electronic discovery is a growing part of Palm Beach divorce cases—particularly in cases involving large marital estates. When a spouse attempts to hide marital assets or divert them away from a spouse, electronic discovery becomes an important tool to assure that our clients are not deprived of their equitable share of marital assets. Sometimes a spouse will conduct a prolonged affair and spend tens of thousands of dollars—(depending on the case, sometimes even millions of dollars)—on expensive gifts, such as jewelry, vehicles or homes, travel, hotels, and dining out with a lover. Palm Beach divorce attorney James S. Cunha and his legal team are committed to conducting a thorough and meticulous investigation to identify such misappropriation of marital property and will make every possible attempt to recover their client’s share of any diverted funds.
The scope of such illicit transactions in divorce cases may include but are not limited to the following:
- Setting up an investment account linked to a hidden social network site
- Using a PayPal account or credit cards to finance an affair
- Setting up and monitoring bank accounts electronically that are not disclosed to a spouse
- Purchasing online gifts via Amazon and ebay for a girlfriend or boyfriend
- Funneling marital assets through the use of either “shell” or “dummy” corporations/companies
Our experienced Palm Beach divorce team carefully reviews all documents and conducts electronic discovery to identify available assets and income that may not have been disclosed. Both parties to a Florida divorce have a duty of full disclosure of all assets and liabilities. This disclosure requirement involves listing all properties with a designation of the property as marital or separate property. Each party must also indicate the value of the listed properties.
When a spouse fails to comply with this mandatory disclosure requirement, a family law judge has the power to punish the offending party for frustrating the court’s ability to equitably distribute marital property.
If you are involved in a divorce, Palm Beach divorce attorney James S. Cunha and his legal team will work diligently to make sure that all property is disclosed so that his clients obtain the financial foundation they need to rebuild following a marital dissolution. No matter where you are located, experienced Palm Beach divorce property lawyer James S. Cunha is just a phone call away.