The division of marital property is frequently one of the most contentious and emotional parts of divorce. One spouse may worry about maintaining their standard of living or simply living independently after the divorce, while the other may deeply resent the idea that they have to supplement the standard of living of the other via spousal support. Those heightened emotions sometimes lead to legally and ethically questionable decisions, like the choice to hide assets.
Technically, the family courts require that spouses disclose their assets and debts to one another and the family courts during the discovery process. However, some people intentionally hide property in the hopes of keeping it for themselves. These are some of the most common ways that people attempt to hide assets when they divorce.
Converting property to something that’s hard to track
There are many ways that someone can take marital assets and try to turn them into untraceable property. In recent years, one of the most common strategies has involved cryptocurrency and other digital assets. Without professional help, it can be very difficult to track down undisclosed cryptocurrency holdings, as there is no centralized banking authority for digital funds. Other times, people may take money out of joint accounts or sell marital property to buy other assets in the hopes that their spouse won’t notice or lay claim to that property.
Making strategic cash withdrawals
Some people prepare for divorce for months or even longer. There are even cases of spouses who never fully disclose their true financial circumstances when they get married and consistently siphon money from their paycheck without their spouse ever knowing. Someone could withdraw funds from their paycheck every week to set money aside in a secret bank account. They might also make cash withdrawals, possibly while making purchases at the grocery store or the mall, to put together a significant cache of cash.
Moving physical assets
Particularly when couples have large marital estates and years of property acquired jointly, spouses may lose track of the fine art, collectibles or antiques that the couple purchased with marital funds. One spouse may begin physically removing assets from the shared marital home to hide them from the other and may then not include them or their value in the inventory of assets that they produce.
Whether someone takes money or physical assets, their attempt to hide assets could unfairly influence the outcome of the divorce process. Knowing where to look for hidden assets can help people discover financial misconduct before it is too late.