Divorce & Hidden Money: How To Conduct A Low-Cost Asset Search
My last 2 posts discussed asset recovery tools such as recognizing red flags & using compelled consent forms. Assets might also be recovered as a consequence of researching public records. This 18th post in the “Divorce & Hidden Money” series focuses on how one can perform a low-cost asset search by digging through public records/databases:¹
I. Real Estate Searches
Some government databases provide free real property searches, like New York City’s Automated City Register System (“ACRIS”). ACRIS supplies searches about real property owners in New York City by a party’s name, parcel identifiers (such as borough, block and lot numbers), etc.
A divorcing spouse’s assets held in the form of personal injury or other type of legal claim, (if any), can sometimes be uncovered via court databases. Although limited to New York State courts, eCourts is a free database. After signing up for an access code, PACER enables one to conduct searches of federal courts nationwide.
III. Corporate & U.C.C. Searches
Free government websites including New York’s https://www.dos.state.ny.us/corps/ may provide ownership or other useful information about duly licensed New York businesses/corporations.
IV. United States Patent & Trademark Office
Patents and trademarks can be researched for free at https://www.uspto.gov/patft/.
V. Comprehensive Searches
LexisNexis offers “SmartLinx” which is a fee-based service for attorneys, government authorities, etc. It can be used to search domestic public records. Records regarding real property, motor vehicles, telephone numbers, can often be accessed.
¹The instant post contains material courtesy of L.L. Jones, Concealing Assets In Bankruptcy: What Are the Consequences And How Do Trustees Find The Assets?, Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Presentation: April 24, 2008).