This blog is for readers who think their spouse may be cheating, spending money on paramours, or moving money into secret accounts before filing for a divorce.
This blog is also for readers who think they can get away with being shady and funding separate accounts, living secret lives, opening new credit cards, or conveniently “forgetting” to disclose their assets in divorce proceedings.
What happens when one spouse is blindsided by the divorce, but the other is stealthily planning the eventual demise of the marriage for months or years? In some relationships, one spouse will handle the majority of finances and account information (logins, passwords, etc.) while the other is fully trusting and defers to their spouse to manage their finances properly. There is nothing wrong with this, but you will likely need the assistance of a family law attorney if and when your spouse decides to change passwords, block your access to marital accounts, or if they fail to be honest and disclose all assets and income. Conversely – if you are the spouse who thinks you are being smooth and discrete by siphoning off a portion of your income to a new account, or racking up credit card debt on paramours, you should be warned and also seek the assistance of a family law attorney to guide you through the mess you are likely creating.
In Pennsylvania, the Divorce Code and civil rules permit both spouses to engage in the “discovery” of the other’s information. Rule 4003.1 allows you to request virtually anything that is relevant to the issues being disputed or litigated in divorce. There are some exceptions, but readers should be cautioned that your secret accounts will eventually be turned over, all of your income must be disclosed, and you might get called to the mat to explain your shady dealings in front of a judge or hearing officer.
“Discovery” of the other spouse’s information and assets/debts are typically in the form of written interrogatories and a request for production of documents. Under the law and rules in Pennsylvania, you are required to answer your spouse’s request within a certain period of time. If you choose not to answer the request, or think that you can get away with not disclosing and providing full and honest responses, a court can compel you to do so or even sanction your conduct with a fine.
Point being – be honest and transparent with all financial dealings and do not live under the false assumption that you can get away with ‘divorce planning.’ It is not a smart idea. Moving money now or failing to disclose and blocking access to your spouse will only end up coming back to haunt you in the long run. If you are on the other side of the equation and feel as if you are the spouse who is in the dark, trust and know that the discovery rules and Divorce Code provide you rights to get access to the information you need to finalize a divorce and have a full disclosure of what’s really going on. Good or bad, it will all come out in the end.
If you have questions about divorce and “discovery”, the family law attorneys at PSG can help you calculate potential outcomes. Speak with our experienced West Chester attorney at Potts, Shoemaker & Grossman, LLC, where we are prepared to assist you in finding the best approach for your unique situation. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us at (610) 840-2626.