Dividing marital property can be complex. Couples facing the breakdown of their marriage often do not see eye-to-eye. Disputes over the value of the home or other substantial assets may seem burdensome. However, when one spouse decides to break the rules and hide assets before the divorce papers are filed, it is vital to work with a strong legal team to protect your financial future. Uncovering hidden assets may be more complicated than resolving disputes over market values.
Several years ago ForbesWoman and the National Endowment for Financial Education commissioned a small study of financial deception or financial infidelity among married couples. Harris Interactive surveyed slightly more than 2,000 people. Nearly one-third of the participants (31 percent) admitted to cheating on their spouse financially.
While the research including stories of individuals secretly amassing debt, some of the study respondents also admitted to hidden bank accounts or undisclosed income.
In higher asset households, or when business interests are potentially at stake, spite or just plain greed may tempt a person to hide assets in the face of divorce. While rare in divorce court, knowing the signs that a spouse may be cheating financially can help you to protect your financial future.
Common Tactics Individuals May Use To Hide Assets
- Business owners may create a fictitious employee and later void the paychecks to retrieve the money after divorce, according to the Association of Divorce Financial Planners
- Executives, salespersons and business owners may attempt to delay entering into a lucrative contract to keep the income from becoming marital property
- Skimming from a business or shuffling the books is a common method to hide cash
- Spouses may provide gifts or make payments disguised as debt payments to family members or acquaintances knowing that they will get the money back when the divorce is finalized
- Parents may open a custodial account under a child’s Social Security number to park assets during a divorce
Forensic accountants, CPAs and other financial experts may be needed to trace income and assets in a high-stakes divorce. Moreover, it is important to work with a lawyer with the financial acumen to understand the issues to present a solid case before the court. Minnesota courts require the parties to provide full and fair disclosure of assets. However, if you suspect your spouse is hiding money, or unreasonably depleting marital assets, it is critical to speak to your family law attorney about your suspicions or evidence.