Culture / Newsy

When Trust Is Gone — How to Prevent Your Ex From Taking Financial Advantage

Uncovering The Truth In Divorce

BY // 08.29.23

By the time a client first meets with a divorce attorney, often times the trust has broken down in their marriage. Clients often feel like their spouse is cheating them in some way. But it’s not always traditional cheating they suspect. Often clients believe — or even know — that their spouse is taking advantage of them financially. If you’re concerned that your spouse might stockpile hidden assets or cover up extravagant spending, or if you believe he or she will accuse you of doing the same, it’s essential to work with a divorce attorney who understands how to gather the evidence necessary to reveal the truth and protect your interests.

“Clients should organize the information that informs their suspicions as best they can and provide it to their attorney,” says Lee Budner, partner at Calabrese Budner. “From there, the attorney can help evaluate concerns and create a game plan for addressing them.” Budner has made a name for himself in family court through professionalism, client advocacy, and strategic thinking. He is also a former commercial litigator, experienced in high-stakes, multi-million-dollar cases, both at the trial court level and on appeal. This experience enables him to excel in high-conflict situations, navigating complex property disputes and contentious custody battles. “I honed my litigation skill set as a commercial litigator, particularly in dealing with complicated discovery issues for which strategic planning is essential,” Budner says.

Carla Calabrese and Lee Budner.

Fraud and Waste in Divorce Cases

In a divorce case, attorneys for both parties should be on the lookout for three types of wasteful and potentially fraudulent practices:

Transfer of martial assets to third parties. 

One way a spouse may try to deprive you of your fair share is by transferring of assets to third parties, including other family members, business entities, or business partners.

Excessive spending. 

Excessive spending by a spouse during a marriage or during the divorce itself can take many forms, including frivolous expenses, extravagant purchases, and running up debt. If your spouse is piling on the expenses without your knowledge, you may be entitled to relief.


Fraud generally occurs in one of two ways. Either an individual intentionally misrepresents something or they intentionally fail to reveal something, causing you harm. They trick you with their words or trick you with silence. “If fraud or waste is actually discovered, one of the most important first steps is making sure that you have comprehensively identified the full extent of the improper conduct,” Budner says. “That requires evaluating the documents and information you have and assessing what additional avenues exist to build a full picture of what’s transpired. Sometimes that first discovery can lead to a cascading effect of more and more.

Using Discovery Tools in Divorce

While people often think of divorce litigation as arguments made in a courtroom, most litigation is won or lost long before a case goes to trial. One of the most important aspects of litigation is the discovery phase, which is the fact-finding, investigative part of the process.

During the discovery phase, both sides have tools available to them to try to give themselves the upper hand. If you’re dealing with fraud or waste by your spouse, aggressive yet strategic discovery is paramount. Asking the right questions at the right time in the right way can tip the scales in your case. Attorneys can request specific documents, pose written questions, and hold depositions where witnesses are required to answer verbal questions under oath. When attorneys know what to ask and how to follow up on a potential weakness, they can uncover valuable information that will support their clients’ objectives while undercutting arguments raised by the other side.

What, How, and Why?

When approaching the discovery process in divorce, it’s helpful to consider what you need, how you are going to get it, and why you need it. Knowing what you need requires considerable experience. For instance, if you are looking for information that will expose flaws in the methodology or analysis used by the other side, your attorney must be able to identify the types of documents or questions that will provide this information.

Knowing how to obtain information is next. Once you identify what you are looking for, your attorney needs to find the best way to collect it — through requests for documents, admissions, interrogatories, depositions, or some combination of methods. It is critical to have an attorney experienced in complex discovery who has the tenacity to push for the information you need. You cannot assume that a spouse that is hiding information is going to hand it over easily — so you need a lawyer who will fight for the evidence.

Knowledge and information alone are not enough. Your lawyer needs to understand why that information is critical to your case and how to deploy that information to your advantage. This requires a skilled advocate who knows how to synthesize and package information to accomplish your objectives.

Reaching the Finish Line

Information gained during discovery can be used to build leverage to settle a case, or the information can be used to present persuasive arguments in court. Either way, the effective use of the discovery process may be what wins your case.
Make sure you select a divorce attorney who knows how to effectively navigate the discovery process. At Calabrese Budner, our legal team has litigation experience that few family law attorneys can match, and we put the full range of our combined expertise to work for you every time. We craft information into persuasive arguments and know how to effectively present those arguments to the judge at each stage, from the initial pleadings to closing arguments.

To learn more about Calabrese Budner and their expertise, visit or call 214-939-3000.