3 places people may find hidden assets during a divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2024 | Divorce

Preparing for divorce often involves taking careful stock of the marriage first. Many people need to evaluate their situation to feel confident about the decision to end the marriage. Beyond that, people need to negotiate appropriate financial terms so that they have the resources they need to live a healthy and productive life after their divorce.

Especially when couples have accumulated sizable assets throughout the marriage, there is an incentive for one spouse to try to trick the other into accepting less from the marital estate than they actually deserve. One of the ways that people achieve this malicious goal is through lying about the marital estate and hiding assets.

Where do those preparing for divorce sometimes locate hidden assets that belong to the couple or one spouse?

On the inventory of assets

Not all attempts to hide marital assets are blatant. Some people try a more subtle approach where they accurately report their property but intentionally misrepresent its value. If someone has a collection of designer handbags, for example, they might try to pass that off as only having a value of a few hundred dollars. However, the handbags may each be worth more than the reported amount. People need to review disclosures about resources carefully to identify assets that someone does not include and assets that they clearly undervalued.

In a safe deposit box or storage unit

Going over financial records is often part of looking for hidden assets. While someone may not find proof of their spouse funneling money off into a hidden bank account, they might find proof that they have a location where they have hidden physical property ranging from jewelry to furniture. Safe deposit boxes at financial institutions can hold valuable paperwork and small items that might be worth thousands of dollars. Storage units could contain property moved out of the marital home or acquired with marital income that someone does not want to share with their spouse.

In a secret financial account

Often, hidden assets are financial. Some people make small withdrawals from the shared checking account every time they go to the bank or use their debit card at the grocery store. They deposit these funds in a bank account in their own name. Some people actually have accounts that may predate the marriage that they never disclosed to their spouse. They might transfer a portion of their paycheck into that secret bank account every week. It may be necessary to work with a forensic accountant to track down financial resources intentionally hidden by one spouse.

Finding hidden assets is crucial to someone’s economic protection during a divorce with complex assets. Those who approach the property division process diligently are often in a better position to mitigate the impacts of economic misconduct on the part of a spouse.

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