It's very common at the end of a marriage for suspicion to run high, particularly if there have been lies and emotional betrayals. It wouldn't be unusual for people to imagine if he lied about that or if she lied about this; maybe there are lies about money too. This kind of concern is often brought to divorce lawyers, and more often than not, we find that there aren't concealed assets after doing expensive, forensic audit trails to try to find the Swiss bank accounts that don't very often turn out to be there. Having said that, in a Collaborative Divorce, we have all of the same tools available that would be available anywhere to look for hidden assets. We just do it consensually. In addition, both collaborative lawyers make a commitment that they won't come to the table unless they're convinced that their own client is in complete good faith about full disclosure. So there really isn't a downside here. However, if you married somebody who would lie to the taxing authorities, they're probably going to try to lie in a Collaborative Divorce too. The question is, where do you stand the best chance of finding out the facts? And I would suggest you talk with experienced collaborative lawyers about how they can help answer your questions.
Pauline H. Tesler is a Certified Family Law Specialist with Tesler, Sandmann & Fishman in San Francisco and Mill Valley, CA. She is also a pioneer in Collaborative Divorce and devotes her practice exclusively to the collaborative model. Tesler is a co-founder of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the author of two books on Collaborative Divorce. She can be reached at (415) 383-5671.