Even after the relationship has ended, your ex-partner may hide money from you by:
- Depositing money in trusts, or your children’s accounts which you have no control over
- Manipulating joint Self-Managed Retirement Funds
- Drawing money on a redraw mortgage
- Declaring bankruptcy to avoid payment
- Minimising their income by deferring salary or bonuses until after settlement
- Minimising their bank account balance by ‘lending’ money to friends, overpaying creditors (credit cards, tax, etc.) or buying expensive items that can be sold later
- Stockpiling cash
- Minimise the amount of child support by hiding income and assets, or by refusing to pay child support or child care
Your ex-partner might continue to abuse you or make it hard for you to get your fair share of the assets in some of these ways:
- Manipulating discussions with mediators or lawyers
- Manipulating the child support and Centrelink systems to stop or reduce your benefits
- Forcing you to move house and/or change jobs to incur costs for you or make it hard for you to claim your benefits
- Dragging out legal proceedings to incur costs and delay settlement, making it hard for you to get or keep a job.
- Promising to stop abusive behaviour in return for your acceptance of less of your entitlement
- Discussing what is happening with your lawyer
Finding where the money has gone
If you have grounds to suspect your ex-partner has hidden a lot of money and other assets, you could use a forensic accountant to assist you to find it. This service can be expensive, but the accountant should be able to advise whether it is worth pursuing. You can also enquire about a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement. Forensic accountants work alongside your lawyer. Find a forensic accountant through your lawyer, or search the Certified Practicing Accountant Australia website.
You can find out ways to reclaim your power and protect yourself from continued financial abuse in our post Getting Back Control of Your Money.