Divorce & Hidden Money: An Asset Search Based On A Passport


This 22nd post in the “Divorce & Hidden Money” series says an asset search of your spouse should include inspecting your spouse’s passport:

Did your spouse hide assets from you during your divorce by opening a secret offshore bank account or by placing valuables like diamonds in a safe deposit box offshore? Did your spouse secretly purchase real estate, art or other assets offshore?  If you believe your spouse hid assets from you in these ways, inspect your spouse’s passport.  You can request to see it during the discovery phase of your divorce.  Your spouse’s passport might reveal offshore tax havens or other places your spouse visited to hide assets.  Based on information at the passport, you may even be able to narrow your asset search of your spouse.

What if your spouse alleges he/she does not currently possess a passport?  If your spouse possesses a U.S. passport & is lying, I recommend you make two requests for passport records to the U.S. State Department (hereinafter “the Department”)— one under the Privacy Act of 1974 and the other as a Freedom of Information Act Request (hereinafter “FOIA Request”).  The best way to do this is by submitting 2 consent forms to the Department, signed by your spouse.  If your spouse refuses to sign the 2 forms and your divorce is still pending before the court, you could file a motion asking the judge to direct your spouse to sign the forms.

The 1st consent form is the Department’s “Form DS-4240, Certification of Identity”.  The DS-4240 form & instructions explaining how to file it with the Department, are available here.  The 2nd consent form is the Department’s “Authorization For The Release Of Records To Another Individual.”  An example of this 2nd form is available here with instructions about filing it as a FOIA Request.  By filing these forms with the Department, you can get copies of your spouse’s past passport applications; issued passports; etc.  Although these passport records will not have border stamps/border crossing markings on them, you will be able to demonstrate your spouse lied about possessing a U.S. passport.

Image: Courtesy of Flickr (Licensed) by Mike Dierken

Forms & filing instructions: Courtesy of U.S. Department of State


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