Prior to filing for divorce, a devious spouse may try to hide assets either to capture a greater share of the marital estate out of greed or fear of future financial insecurity or to prevent their spouse from getting a fair share out of spite. This is more likely to happen when certain conditions exist. If any of the conditions discussed below exist in your marriage, then be sure to alert your divorce lawyer about your concerns. Your attorney may recommend hiring a forensic accountant who can study several years’ worth of your tax returns, bank statements, and other financial records to uncover evidence of hidden assets.
When to Be Concerned About Hidden Assets
Some conditions that create greater opportunity for assets to be hidden include:
Wealth. In a high-income, high-asset divorce, assets may be spread across numerous investment accounts, real estate holdings, and expensive personal property such as antiques, jewelry, and boats. A couple may also have multiple sources of income. The more complicated the marital estate, the more options a spouse has for hiding places. A devious spouse could also try to argue that parts of the estate are actually their separate property, acquired before marriage, by gift, or by inheritance.
Business ownership. In a business owner divorce, the other spouse may know very little about the day-to-day operation of the business. This can make it easy for the business owner to hide assets under the umbrella of the business. Business assets can be undervalued, false debts can be created, and so on.
Unusual hobbies or interests. If one spouse has an unusual hobby that the other knows little about, they could use the hobby to hide assets. They could, for example, invest thousands of dollars in equipment for a boat or airplane and then, on the inventory of assets, claim that these items have minimal value. The same can be done with a collection of expensive watches or artworks. Physical assets can also simply be hidden away while your spouse claims they were lost or sold at a low price.
International connections. If one spouse was born in or has close contacts in a foreign country, they could hide assets there.
Children or close family. One spouse could title assets in the name of a child or a family member so that those assets would not appear under their name.
An experienced forensic accountant should be able to detect changes in your financial records from year to year that suggest the possibility of hidden assets. Requiring independent valuation of all major assets including a spouse’s business is another way to ensure that one spouse does not cheat their way into a disproportionate share of marital property.
Consult an Experienced Kane County Divorce Attorney
If you have a complicated marital estate, be sure to hire a divorce lawyer who is experienced in dealing with high net worth divorces and cases involving hidden assets. Consult an experienced St. Charles divorce lawyer for guidance. Call Weiler & Lengle P.C. at 630-382-8050.