Getting divorced can bring out the worst in many people. It's an emotional time, full of internal turmoil. In some cases, this can result in bad behavior and questionable choices. If your former spouse feels spurned or angry, he or she may try to hide some assets from the courts in an attempt to create an unfair division of assets.
Divorce involves the division of all assets, from houses and vacation homes to retirement accounts and valuables, such as furniture or fine art. The greater the overall value of your household, the more complicated the asset division process may become.
The more assets you have and the more diverse they are, the easier it may be for your spouse to hide valuable items from the courts during your divorce. You may need to take extra steps, such as working with a forensic accountant, to ensure that you've found all the assets acquired during your marriage and placed a fair value on them. Locating and properly pricing assets is a critical step to ensuring that the division of your assets during your divorce is fair to everyone.
There are many ways to hide assets prior to divorce
An angry spouse could try to hide assets in a number of ways. Sometimes, your former spouse may begin withdrawing small amounts of cash from each pay period.
Those who are sneaky may take it a step farther. Instead of making ATM withdrawals, which can be easily tracked, they may use a debit card when buying groceries or other household items. Most businesses allow debit card users to make a cash withdrawal while paying with a debit card. It can be difficult to determine what transactions are legitimate and which ones are intended to find funds or obscure withdrawal records.
Your former spouse may have also been trying to hide assets in non-monetary investments, like fine art, jewelry or even sports memorabilia. Placing a value on assets like fine art may require the help of other professionals, such as experts in art, antiques or collectibles. The more items you take the time to accurately price, the harder it is for your former spouse to hide assets of substantial value.
Other times, people are less subtle. Your former spouse may have created an offshore bank account that you don't know about. Some people believe that diverting funds into an offshore account protects the funds from tax liabilities and division during a divorce. They are wrong on both counts. A forensic accountant can help you locate hidden accounts and provide information to the courts about how it was funded.
Your attorney can also use the attempt at hiding assets in your favor when advocating on your behalf during the divorce proceedings. As soon as you know divorce is imminent, you should speak with an experienced attorney who specializes in high-asset divorce cases.