Getting divorced can be financially stressful for everyone involved. While many couples agree to split assets fairly, sadly some will try to hide money, property, and valuables before or during divorce. Hiding assets during a divorce is illegal, and a breach of a spouse’s fiduciary duty.
Fortunately, you can determine if your spouse is attempting to hide assets by gauging their behavior. Many spouses will grow increasingly secretive regarding financial matters. They may suddenly stop sharing financial information altogether. When confronted, their reaction may be aggressive and accusatory, and they might criticize you for a “lack of trust” or being “paranoid” or “crazy.”
If you are ready to end the marriage, be aware of the signs that your spouse may be hiding assets during divorce.
Finding the Truth
Dodging your questions or giving unsatisfactory answers is a common warning sign that a spouse is lying about finances. You may find yourself locked out of online accounts, financial documents may disappear, or digital records and programs may be deleted. Even more alarming, strange transactions, such as withdrawals, could appear on your bank statement.
Another warning sign is if high value items, such as art, jewelry, or collectibles, go missing. Spouses who want to shield property during a divorce may take these items from the marital home and hide them. Even if those items belong to your spouse as separate assets, they must be disclosed in their financial statements.
Another common tactic is for a spouse to try to disguise assets as gifts or loans to their friends and relatives. This is particularly apparent if they remove cash from your bank account and ask others to hold it until the divorce is finalized. This is called the dissipation of marital assets and such intentional mishandling or hiding of marital assets is illegal.
In marriages where one or both spouses own a business a spouse may look to hide assets in their company budget. Unexplained drops in income, increases in expenses, or questionable transfers between accounts may be an indication your spouse is hiding money elsewhere or simply not disclosing their true income.
What To Do Next
Whether you’re divorcing a spouse who hides assets, or divorcing a gambling addict who compulsively abuses finances, the process can be fraught with emotion. Furthermore, divorce becomes significantly more problematic when high-value assets are at stake.
If you recognize red flags or signs of hiding assets in your marriage, and are considering divorce, an attorney who specializes in high net worth divorces can help. A skilled attorney can use any number of strategies to track down assets that have been concealed from you. Seek help sooner rather than later as the process can be difficult, the money can be gone or the cost to go after the asset may become cost prohibitive. Having an attorney take immediate action to curtail illegal behavior and develop a case strategy from the beginning is key. Not only can a good attorney help you expose your spouse’s malicious behavior, but they will give you the best shot at walking away with your fair share.