Finding Hidden Assets in a Divorce


When your marriage is coming to an end, one of the most important things you and your soon-to-be former spouse must do is divide all of the communal property in the marriage – the house, the cars, the investments, the savings. You and your spouse both have claims to the marital assets. It’s not surprising, then, that many people preparing for a divorce choose to try to hid their assets from their spouse in order to get an unfair amount of property in the settlement.

If you think your spouse is trying to take advantage of the situation and hide money and property from you, it’s important that you be familiar with some of the most common places people try to obfuscate assets to keep them from being claimed as communal property. This practice is illegal, and in many states, if you can prove that your former spouse attempted to keep you from knowing about money and property, a judge will order a review of the divorce arrangement.

Common Hiding Spots

Some of the most frequently employed methods of hiding the whereabouts of communal assets are:

  • Hobby items and collectibles. Often these items are Private surveillanceLinks to an external site. undervalued because the spouse may consider them to be junk or knick-knacks and not be aware of their true value.
  • Artwork and antiques. The prices of these valuables fluctuate, and may increase dramatically over time. Make sure to have these items evaluated prior to a divorce.
  • Phony debt repayments and “gifts.” Sometimes, spouses will try to hide money by giving it to friends in the guise of a payment for a debt, or as a gift. They will then recoup this “debt” after the divorce is over.
  • Secondary bank accounts. Bank accounts may be set up as custodial and under the name and Social Security number of children.
  • Delayed payments. Occasionally, people who know they are going through a divorce arrange with their employers to withhold or delay pay checks, bonuses, stock options, or raises, in order that these assets not be listed as communal property.
  • Hidden cash, and cash in the form of travelers’ checks. These assets are more difficult to find, but a review of income tax returns and pay stubs may indicate the presence of hidden cash earnings.

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