Snooping During Divorce

Divorce can be quite complicated, especially in high asset divorces. While it’s illegal for a spouse to hide assets or income from the other spouse, some people are determined to try it. When an allegation is made that one spouse is hiding assets, it’s often because the other spouse hasn’t dealt with the family finances.

What Assets Are Usually Hidden?

The most common assets that are hidden during a divorce include cash, mutual funds, bonds, insurance policies with cash value, stocks, travelers’ checks and savings bonds. Cash is often converted into property like art, antiques, vehicles, jewelry and more.

How Are Assets Hidden in a Divorce?

There are numerous ways that assets and income are hidden. Other individuals may be brought in to help, such as family members, sometimes without even knowing what is going on.

Assets can be hidden by paying off credit card balances or mortgages, repaying debts to family and friends that may not be real, transferring large amounts of money into trusts and giving money to someone who will return it after the divorce is final.

For a spouse who owns a business, cash and other assets can be hidden in many ways. Fake employees may be paid a salary, but the checks are voided after the divorce is finalized. Long-term, lucrative business contracts may be put on hold until after the divorce. Income may not be reported on financial statements and tax returns, which lowers the value of the business. This means the other spouse won’t get as much for his or her share.

Finding the Income and Assets

The investigator looking for hidden assets will need information to get started. All legal names and aliases will be needed, as will the names and addresses for family and friends. Social Security numbers and birth dates are helpful. Lifestyle information is also important, such as whether the spouse travels a lot, keeps a lot of cash around or gets credit card bills delivered to work.

No matter what you might call it –- concealing, obscuring, obfuscating or veiling –- hiding assets can present a real challenge for the other spouse when it comes to getting his or her fair share of marital assets.

Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets?

If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, you need an experienced, knowledgeable attorney who knows how to locate the assets or can direct you to financial investigators that can find them.