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Going through a divorce can be emotionally draining for everyone involved, especially if you and your spouse are not ending your marriage on amicable terms. Each step in the divorce process can bring on its own set of challenges. The division of marital assets is one issue that can create a great deal of contention. Both spouses will rarely agree on how to divide property, and these disagreements can sometimes lead one spouse to use shady tactics to try to keep certain assets for themselves.
It is not uncommon for a spouse to try to keep money or other property hidden away and out of their ex’s reach. Whether a person believes they should keep the money they earned or simply feels entitled to ownership of certain items, such tactics are not allowed during the divorce process. In fact, only marital assets are divided between spouses during divorce. This means that if a spouse was truly the sole owner of property, there would be no need to hide it in the first place.
According to Forbes, there are four common ways in which divorcing spouses hide assets:
Whether your spouse used one or all of these tactics, there are a few common places that you can check to find any assets that have been concealed from you. Reviewing old tax returns is the best place to start your hunt. Your spouse may not fear lying to you, but they will rarely do the same to the IRS. By looking back on 5 to 10 years of tax documents, you can search for inconsistencies in areas such as trusts, income, real estate holdings, or partnerships.
Family or friends may also be abetting your ex. If you notice that your former spouse has made a “debt payment” to a friend or family member, you should verify the circumstances surrounding this debt to determine whether it is valid. False debt payments are a way for individuals to shift money into someone else’s name until the divorce is finalized and the asset division process is complete.
Some spouses go so far as utilizing their professional life as an outlet to conceal money. Divorcing business owners may pay a false salary to an imaginary employee. This allows them to transfer money into a separate account while using an alias to disguise their true motives. Delaying contracts has also been known to occur. Any additional business income that is brought in before the divorce is finalized is still considered marital property. As a result, some business owners will delay signing large business contracts until after the divorce so they can keep these profits for themselves.
The division of marital property can be a contentious part of a divorce case. Whether done out of revenge or to try to exert control over the way the marital assets will be divided, any attempt to conceal marital property is against the law. While you can look in certain places to uncover hidden assets, working with an experienced divorce attorney is your best bet for ensuring that your marital property is divided fairly. At Goldberg Sager & Associates, we have over 25 years of experience in this area of family law, and we understand how to recognize forms of financial concealment. If you believe that your spouse may be hiding marital assets, contact our New York City divorce attorneys at 718-514-9516 for legal help.