January 26, 2021
What is and is not considered “marital property” depends on when the property was acquired. However, even property acquired before a marriage may be subject to property division if the property acquired significant value during the marriage. In other words, the value that the property acquired is part of the marital estate, while the value of the property at the time of your marriage is considered part of your spouse’s estate.
Sometimes, if things are not going well, a spouse will get it in their head to attempt to hide these assets from the other spouse and the other spouse’s attorney. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets from you, you should discuss that with your attorney right away. Your attorney may be able to track down the assets and prove the spouse was hiding them. Since this is an attempt to lie to the court, the judge will be upset at the spouse who tries to do this.
In situations in which one spouse is the primary breadwinner, the other spouse may have difficulty knowing exactly what they own or where to begin determining what assets they have. Financially savvy spouses can hide assets in offshore bank accounts, hide assets in LLCs or anonymous trusts, or “sell” them to friends and relatives to avoid dividing them in the marriage. Some of these assets may be held in out-of-state trusts, making them much more difficult to track down. Regardless of where the assets are held, your spouse is required to disclose this during your divorce.
Assets can be hidden in any number of ways. One of the most popular ways is to “hire” individuals who the spouse knows to funnel assets from the marital estate to someone else’s estate. They then get the money back when the divorce is final. While this is a simple way of transferring assets from the estate, there are more sophisticated ways as well.
As an example, your spouse can “sell” assets to an LLC that does not list their name on the corporate documents. This can be very difficult for lawyers to track down, but since we have a considerable financial incentive to do so, we usually do. This simply requires us to look at any recent transactions.
A shadier way of accomplishing this is by delaying business proceedings until after the divorce is finalized. If one spouse has a major contract come in, they wait until after the divorce decree to sign the deal. This can be much more difficult to uncover than transferred assets.
Some asset-hiding techniques are illegal. It is not illegal to hold assets in offshore accounts or anonymous trusts, but it is illegal to fail to disclose these assets or underreport the value of a business by filing fraudulent tax papers.
At Bellinger Law Office, we know how important your financial stability is after a recent divorce. We hire investigators, forensic accountants, and other experts to uncover hidden assets and ensure your former spouse is playing fairly.
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