While there’s a lot of inaccurate information floating around about divorce, most people do understand that once they or their spouse file for divorce, they will likely have to split the custody of any children they share and also find a way to divide their assets and debts. The courts in Washington do their best to be fair when it comes to property division, but there are ways in which some people can manipulate the system to their own benefit.
Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for people going through a high-asset divorce to attempt to hide assets from their spouse or the courts as a way of preventing the courts from dividing those assets. Knowing some of the more common ways that people hide assets can give you a better idea of where to look.
Primary wage earners have many opportunities to hide assets and income
If you have stayed home to raise children or have simply earned less than your spouse, you may have let them assume control over the household finances. When one spouse handles the budget and the tax filing, they are in an ideal position to take assets that should belong to the household and use them for personal purposes.
Tactics for hiding assets as the wage earner in a family include starting a bank account to transfer a portion of wages into every time they get paid, purchasing valuable items that could pass as generic items, such as valuable antiques, fine art or upscale home furnishings in the hope that the item will not have an appropriate value attached to it.
In some cases, they may also try to sell assets for a fraction of what they should be worth or give them away, with the intention of reclaiming them after the divorce. Others might knowingly commit tax fraud to avoid disclosing their full income.
Even those subject to financial scrutiny or dependent on their spouse can hide assets
If you are the primary wage-earner and you have a handle on the household finances, you may not suspect that hidden assets would play a role in the divorce. However, your spouse may have found ways around the scrutiny that you apply to your household accounts.
For example, maybe they always get $20, $40 or even $80 back when they shop at the grocery store or other businesses. If you don’t carefully scrutinize the details of the transaction, you may not realize that your spouse spent far less than they claimed and pocketed the difference. Locating safes inside your home and records for any safe deposit boxes can help you potentially track down hidden stashes of cash.
Finding hidden assets is important because you can only get your fair share of the marital estate if the courts you know what you own.