Divorce Shines a Spotlight on Hidden Assets

AceUpSleeve.jpg When couples decide to divorce – especially when the split is acrimonious – it is not uncommon for one or both to accuse the other of hiding assets. Certainly it is not unheard of for one spouse, anticipating an eventual divorce, to actively hide assets from the other in an effort to come out of the divorce with more financial benefits.

There are a number of common ways that a spouse may hide assets including:

• Hiding cash
• Setting up accounts at unfamiliar banks using the children’s names
• Setting up retirement or investment accounts as the sole owner
• Parking income with family or friends
• Having an employer withhold a raise, bonus or stock options until a divorce is finalized
• Purchasing antiques or other collectibles that are typically undervalued or overlooked

If one spouse owns a business, they may also try to hide assets by:

• Paying a salary to a nonexistent employee or vendor
• Paying a family member or friend who then saves the cash for them
• Skimming cash from the business

Many divorce lawyers utilize the services of forensic accountants or private investigators to discover hidden assets. However, the best defense against hidden assets is when both spouses have joint control over their finances and understand exactly how much income they have and where it goes.