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Hiding Divorce Assets: Protect Yourself

10th October 2011
By John David Marcys in Divorce
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Tricks to hide assets

Divorce can make the most civilized people act in a most uncivilized manner. If a couple has money or property many couples will fight over these things. If a couple has kids they will many times fight over who has custody of the kids. If neither of these are true couples will fight over anything and everything else, from the smallest items like dishes, furniture or even plants. I have heard of couples even fighting over the better blender.

A spouse can pay significant income taxes and often when payment far exceeds the debt an amendment return is filed along with the request to receive a refund of the over pay taxes. So this method will get cash to the shady party that should have been split legally.

A common trick is to devalue a property to the point that when the value is allocated the managing spouse will get the benefit of a much lower value. This could be rental property that is allowed to remain unrented or in need of repair. Some even contact business customers and agree to defer payment until after a divorce is final. The managing spouse will receive the cash and the value of the business will increase as well.

Can you hide assets legally?

As of right now there are no legal ways to hide money from a soon to be ex spouse. Most states require full disclosure of assets under penalty of perjury. Someone not disclosing willfully will be punished. This only happens IF the non-disclosed assets are discovered. If it is never brought to the courts attention rarely is anything done about it.

What to do if your spouse is hiding assets

The number one rule is to act quickly and to try to figure out to what extent things are being hidden. Gather all financial documents immediately as these should begin to show a pattern.
You should be primarily aware of any documents that you used to receive in the mail but no longer get in your mailbox. Are things being diverted elsewhere? This tends to happen gradually over time. Also be cognizant of any decreases in joint accounts.
Can a business owner hide assets more easily?

Any non owner spouse will need to be extremely cautious in this situation due to the fact that a business owner often has many ways to hide their assets. Please note that often this is an issue of valuation and not an issue of disclosure. Be aware that valuations tend to be very expensive to resolve. Usually this will require the expertise if a very experienced accountant.

How to protect your finances during a divorce

First and foremost you will want to be informed and always be as involved as you can. Take the time to fully understand your families finances and again look for anything out of the ordinary.
You will also want to hire the absolute best family law firm that you can afford. They will be directing the investigation that is needed. They will also tell you if any experts are need such as a forensic accountant.

How to find an attorney with experience in dealing with hidden assets

Divorce is pretty common nowadays so I would begin by getting recommendations from friends and co-workers. Another good place to get a recommendation is from the local Bar association. You might also want to check the newspapers for articles about attorneys discovering hidden assets.

As soon as you have a nice list of 4 or 5 it is critical that you interview them thoroughly. Ask many questions. Have they done this before? What is this going to cost me? Definitely ask for their billing rates. The best advice of all is to hire someone you are comfortable dealing with

Only allow the best family law firms to represent you. I can recommend good san jose divorce lawyers if you are in the Bay Area
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