Hiding Assets Allows Non-Custodial Parents To Avoid Financial Responsibility To Their Children
Ever heard of financial abuse? It’s when a person has control or influence on another’s finances in a relationship and withholds money from them.
When an obligor or non-custodial parent hides income or assets in an attempt to avoid financial responsibility of their child, it’s considered a serious infraction on their part.
Shell games such as this are able to occur because the NCP and the CP have a child support agreement, which would be fine if both parties were honest and trustworthy. Even if it’s initially made in good faith, things can always change and new influences can be introduced that lead someone to breaking the agreement and not paying their fair share. In fact hiding assets and income is one of the most common strategies NCPs use to keep more for themselves.
In any event, it’s never acceptable for your ex to put himself before the kids, and if you think there’s a chance that he might be lying about his income and assets you owe it to your children to find out.
Hiding income and assets and keeping them from going towards child support is financial abuse. I want to emphasize the word abuse here. Is it okay to purposely reduce his child’s standard of living? How about buying a new truck while his child can’t go on the class trip they’ve been looking forward to all year? No, it’s most certainly not ok and you don’t have to stand for it.
There is a reason your ex is referred to the obligor on court documents, in the eyes of the law, he is obligated to provide support for his children. Lying about his income and assets and keeping them hidden, so he doesn’t have to send money for his children is just as damaging as any other form of abuse. Let’s take a look at what he might be hiding, where it may be hidden, and what you can do about it.
What He Hides
You may know about your ex’s regular job, his 9-5 grind, but he could be hiding additional income. It could be dividends from stocks he’s collecting, a side job, or income from a rental property. There might also be family money, like an inheritance, that he has tucked under his mattress. He could also be keeping any number of assets hidden, something as small as family antiques or as large as a vacation home or a boat.
Where He Hides It
Evaders can be pretty creative with hiding their assets, and new technology has made it more challenging to track or find their money. For example, non-banking apps like PayPal and Venmo can make it more complicated to take stock of their earnings. In addition gig economy jobs such as freelancing, short-term contracts or under the table jobs make it harder to track and garnish his wages. It may even be someone he trusts who is holding onto his money and assets, so it isn’t in his name. Of course, there’s also the old “I haven’t filed my taxes yet” right before your court date, so the judge doesn’t know about the money he makes, preventing you from collecting on an accurate salary amount.
Finding Everything He Hid
Traditional methods of collecting arrears won’t do much with hidden assets. For all they’re worth, CSE won’t even go after any assets unless you do all the heavy lifting for them. There are too many evaders to hunt for at any given time, not enough resources on staff for the CSE, making it a no-win situation. Instead, the obligor and his assets fly under the radar, leaving you to take care of the children on your own.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. A little creativity and willingness to go beyond the traditional and ineffective methods of collecting child support can get you results. The first and biggest step in uncovering his hidden assets is knowing where to look. Take a moment to think like him. How would he hide his income? Is he likely to be having family members, a new spouse, or a business partner hold onto them?
By the way, just because your ex has joint assets with someone else doesn’t mean you can’t collect from it. Finding the people he trusts the most and poking around their assets could lead to some otherwise hidden gems. Likewise, you may be able to find he’s getting paid under the table at work or that he never filed taxes for his part-time job. He might have an aunt (who died five years ago) who owns an apartment complex and has a steady rental income stream. Some evaders are so careful with their income and assets that thinly-stretched organizations like your local CSE office don’t stand a chance to connect all the dots. It requires detective work and insight outside of their purview.