During a long-term relationship or marriage, couples deal with finances in any number of ways for any number of reasons. Sometimes, one person takes charge of most or all money-related issues while the other takes care of non-financial responsibilities. But, when that relationship or marriage comes to an end, those seemingly fair decisions can seriously impact financial settlements or support calculations.
We frequently hear comments such as “my spouse makes a lot more money than he/she is reporting, but works under the table, so there is no way to prove it.” These same clients are often shocked to learn that they are incorrect. In this article, I will highlight for you just a few of the options that exist for exposing an ex partner who is trying to conceal money. A common ideology that investigators share with agencies like the CRA or IRS, is that ultimately, if you are surviving, money is coming from somewhere. Competent investigators know how and where to look to figure out where that money is coming from.
First of all, the impacted party usually doesn’t realize just how much information they actually hold, and in these cases, knowledge is power. Although most people haven’t been taking detailed financial notes throughout their relationship, many people do generally know who their ex banks with, whether they use credit cards or cash when they pay for things, if they tend to eat out or make food at home, if they rent or buy things they need, who they work for and under what circumstances, how they are paid for work, what they do for entertainment, etc.
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For the sake of brevity, we can lump these items into three categories: Financial Habits, Income Habits, and Extracurricular Habits. Each of these categories has its own story to tell, and combined, they can paint a fairly vivid picture of income, even when someone says they don’t make much or any money.
Humans are creatures of habit. Unless we are specifically training ourselves to do something differently than before, we all gravitate to our comfort zone. As such, if your ex was the type of person to spend like crazy when they were with you…the odds are they will indulge in that behaviour again as soon as they feel comfortable. Likewise, if your ex was one to save or stockpile money, then they likely will again. By analyzing these habits, we can determine how “comfortable” your ex is fairly quickly, and that will show whether they are currently stressed out, in survival mode, or flourishing.
Knowing what your ex does now, or did prior to the breakup is a huge factor in determining their current financial status. Also, if they are employed by someone else, and you know they are working “under the table”, then that means their employer is also committing the crime of tax evasion. You would be surprised by how helpful employers can become when a competent investigator can prove that they are not in compliance with their respective Revenue Agency.
Once we have properly documented and proven that your ex is working and being paid inappropriately, the icing on the cake is to determine and/or show instances where your ex has demonstrated that they have disposable income. For example: your ex says they can’t pay you more than $100/month per child for support purposes, but goes to the Casino on the weekend and is seen to lose a few hundred dollars, and spends additional money restoring a car in his garage.
In order to gather evidence that will prove your ex is hiding money, we do three key things:
- We talk to you. We know what to ask you in order to guide us in the right direction. Often by talking to you first, we can limit research time and avoid duplicating information that you already have.
- We conduct research. Financial/asset searches, background checks, and employment verifications can be conducted to support your claims.
- We conduct surveillance. By conducting surveillance we can prove: A) if your ex is working B) where your ex is working C) when your ex works D) and sometimes, that payment has taken place. Once we have this information documented, new options become available to you, including obtaining statements from your ex’s employer. However, this additional step is rarely necessary.
By properly analyzing a persons spending habits, activity trends and financial behaviour, and then adding that to the gathered evidence regarding their employment and income situation, a private investigator can provide your family law team with important financial information about you ex which will give them a clearer picture of his or her overall financial position. This usually leads to a more successful presentation of your claim(s) for support or financial settlement.
It is never enough to believe you know the truth. The courts are legal environments where solid documented and verified facts will always strengthen your position. Conversely, unverified or nonfactual evidence will damage your credibility, and could negate your claims or case entirely.