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What are some ways that my spouse might hide marital assets?

In some marriages and divorces, a spouse attempts to hide, disguise, or undervalue marital assets in an effort to prevent the assets from being part of the division of property in a divorce. If you are seriously considering getting a divorce or you are already in the process of getting a divorce, it's important to be aware of the many ways that a spouse can hide assets, including:

  • ·Retirement accounts that the spouse never revealed
  • A custodial account set up in the name of the spouse’s child, using the child’s social security number
  • Cash kept as travelers' checks. Such checks may be traceable by following bank account deposits and withdrawals.
  • Income that is not reported on financial statements or tax returns
  • “Debt repayment” to a friend for a phony debt
  • Expenses paid for gifts, travel, rent, college tuition, etc. for a spouse’s girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Tools, hobby equipment, gun collections, antiques, and artwork may be undervalued or overlooked. Keep in mind that your spouse’s office may be the location of some assets.
  • Investments in Series EE Savings Bonds or certificate "bearer" municipal bonds. These don’t appear on account statements because they’re not registered with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • A spouse may collude with his or her employer to delay a raise, bonus, or stock option until a point in time when that income or asset would be considered separate property.

If your spouse owns a business, he or she can attempt to hide assets by:

  • Making salary payments to a phony employee, using checks that will be voided later
  • Skimming cash from the business
  • Paying money from the business to someone such as a parent, friend, or lover for services that were never rendered. The recipient of the money gives it back to the spouse after the divorce is finalized.
  • Delaying the signing of long-term business contracts until after the divorce to lower the value of the business, for example. This is considered a form of hiding assets.

It’s advisable to be familiar with your marital assets to the greatest extent possible. If you have trouble finding all assets or getting the proof needed to show that they exist, your divorce lawyer may recommend the services of a forensic accountant.

For more information about marital assets or to find an experienced divorce lawyer in your area, contact us today.

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