It is illegal to hide assets during a divorce. Couples need to make a disclosure of all the assets they have jointly acquired during their marriage, as all marital assets are subject to division. The only things that should be excluded from the marital estate are separate assets, such as items that spouses purchased before the marriage or direct gifts that were given to them specifically and were not comingled during the course of their union.
However, people do often attempt to hide assets when they don’t want to divide them. For example, perhaps you recently filed for divorce from your spouse and they are angry about it. Since they do not want to end the marriage anyway, they may attempt to hide assets from you to keep you from getting what you truly deserve. There are four main ways that they may do this.
In some situations, people will simply make up false debt. Your spouse may say that they had to give $10,000 to their brother for an old debt that they had forgotten about, for example. Or, if they are a business owner, that may give them different ways to create phony debt and a paper trail.
Saying they lost the asset
In other cases, it’s as simple as a spouse just saying that a valuable item was lost. Maybe they have an extensive art collection. It would be suspicious if one of the most valuable pieces turned up missing.
Giving assets away
It’s very common for people to just give assets away. They’ll choose someone that they trust to give the asset back after the divorce. This artificially lowers the amount of assets they own as they go through that divorce and allows them to avoid disclosure. In the example above, with someone transferring $10,000 to a family member, they could have an unwritten agreement in place to transfer that money back post-divorce.
Claiming an asset doesn’t exist
Finally, some people say that an asset doesn’t exist. If they’re asked about overseas investments, for instance, they’ll say they don’t have any, even though they have accounts where they are storing money. This violates the requirement for full disclosure. They’re just hoping no one uncovers those assets.
Are you worried that your spouse is going to try to hide assets in one of these ways during your divorce? Be sure you know what legal steps you can take at this time by seeking legal guidance proactively.