Can your spouse hide assets from you in divorce?

Property division and the prospect of dividing shared finances into two households can be a challenging aspect of divorce for many couples. Unfortunately, this challenging process can become increasingly complex if spouses attempt to shield assets from property division. What are these assets and how can they be hidden?

Even though the divorcing couple is legally obligated to disclose all assets and debts during the process, it is not uncommon for individuals to attempt to manipulate the data. Honest financial disclosures, however, form the basis for critical elements of your financial future including child support, spousal support and debt responsibility.

What types of assets are commonly hidden?

Individuals can attempt to protect assets by giving them to close friends. They can be concealed away from the prying eyes of either the spouse or a forensic accountant. These assets might be a prized book collection or other items that hold either financial or sentimental value. Additionally, some individuals might attempt to hide cash or valuables in a safety deposit box. Jewelry, paintings, a prized antique, or other valuable items can potentially be hidden away from the division process. Likewise, cash assets might be hidden away in offshore bank accounts.

When a family business or real estate is involved, individuals might take steps to manipulate the value. The business might be undervalued by creating a record of false debt, falsifying transactions or misrepresenting company assets in advance of the business valuation.

Having said that, mistakes do occasionally happen. It is possible to accidentally leave out an asset – a retirement fund from a previous employer that was never rolled over, for example, or a digital asset like an online movie collection. If you realize an asset was not included in your property division, it is wise that you discuss it with a legal professional as soon as possible to learn about the proper steps to take.

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