FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-04-05
Experts report that divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can experience. Much of the stress stems from financial matters that accompany divorce. People often worry about the changes they will have to make now that they will be living on only one income. They also wonder how they are going to divide the property they share with their spouses. What people should not have to worry about is whether their spouses are hiding assets from them.
Hiding assets in a divorce is illegal and unethical, but some spouses do it anyway. People going through divorce should be aware of the signs their spouses may be hiding assets in an attempt to make the property division unfair, as well as some of the common methods people use to hide assets.
Signs a Spouse Is Hiding Assets
When a spouse is trying to hide assets, he or she often displays some typical behaviors. The spouse may arrange for financial statements to be delivered to a different address, rather than to the home, so the other spouse cannot review the statements. A spouse may tell the other that his or her salary decreased, when in reality the spouse is delaying or deferring bonuses or commissions to a later date so that he or she will not collect them until after the divorce.
The spouse may also overpay the I.R.S. or other creditors, knowing that he or she will recoup the money after the divorce. Spouses who are business owners may hire new employees, despite having no increase in business, so that the business looks less valuable on paper.
The spouse hiding assets will often display defensive or irritable behavior if the other spouse tries to question him or her about financial issues.
Typical Methods for Hiding Assets
Some of the more common methods that people use to try to hide assets in a divorce include:
- Purchasing assets such as art and antiques and then having them undervalued in an appraisal
- Hiding cash in a safe deposit box unknown to the other spouse
- Opening accounts in children’s names
- Underreporting income on tax returns
- Paying off phony debts to family or friends, knowing the phony creditors will return the money after the divorce
- Transferring stock or investment accounts into the names of family members until after the divorce
If you are going through a divorce and believe your spouse is trying to keep some of the marital property from you, contact an experienced attorney today to discuss your options.