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Divorce: Discovery and Division of Hidden, Forgotten, Unrecognized, or Overlooked Assets

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will discuss best practices and strategies when counsel in an equitable division jurisdiction believes that all assets and property are not disclosed. The program will explain how to find veiled assets, "unknown" assets like frequent flyer miles or affinity benefits, when to involve a forensic accountant, what such a professional can and cannot accomplish, and how to weigh the costs against the potential benefits. The panel will also review the best options for counsel when it is counsel's client who is accused of hiding assets.


In a divorce, both spouses must affirmatively disclose all assets, income, and debt so that the marital property can be equitably divided. Sometimes one spouse hides assets or misrepresents the value of marital property in multiple ways and may have planned the divorce for some time.

Assets are generally secreted away, either by putting them into third parties' hands or by falsifying records. The exact methods of doing so are limited only by the spouse's creativity, which may involve unwitting third parties or converting cash into fungible assets hiding in plain sight. Looking but not finding undisclosed assets--whether depleted, never existed, or well secreted away--can become a quest that prevents the parties from moving on and have lasting consequences.

Locating unreported income and unknown assets is a difficult and costly endeavor, and the expense of investigation and recovery must always be weighed against the potential benefit. A forensic accountant can uncover cleverly concealed assets, but it is an excruciating and long process. If assets are found, they may be consumed with costs.

A spouse can also often overlook valuable assets just because the spouse or the attorney is unfamiliar with the asset. Collectibles, mineral interests, intellectual property and cryptocurrency are just a few examples of areas where a party can minimize or hide value simply because their spouse is unfamiliar with the asset. It is important that attorney’s familiarize themselves with these uncommon types of assets in order to conduct discovery and properly counsel their clients on such issues.

Listen as this panel explores how to identify the badges of fraud in the divorce, when to engage a forensic accountant, and best practices for managing the costs associated with such endeavors.



  1. Overview of equitable division
  2. Badges of fraud
  3. Benefits of using a forensic accountant
  4. Selecting the right accountant
  5. Formal discovery process to obtain information
  6. Informal discovery
  7. Avoiding illegal searches


The panel will review these and other issues:

  • What are the signs that a party has more assets than they are letting on?
  • At what point should a divorce attorney recommend a forensic accountant to their client?
  • Is this a cost-effective approach to divorce?
  • What is the risk a client loses more than he/she gains?


Burris, Kelly
Kelly L. Burris

Senior Litigation Partner
Cordell & Cordell

Ms. Burris has settled and litigated complex custody cases and property cases involving multi-million dollar estates....  |  Read More

Imel, Taylor
Taylor Toombs Imel

Shareholder & Owner
Toombs Imel & Associates

Houston family law attorney Taylor Imel is a natural competitor who knew from a very young age that she wanted to...  |  Read More

Schouten, Walter
Walter J. Schouten, Jr.

Toombs Imel & Associates

Licensed in 2014 but working in the field of family law since 2009, Mr. Schouten has worked with, for, and against some...  |  Read More

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