Whether you have known your marriage has been headed for divorce for quite some time or the decision came on rather suddenly and unexpected, the journey ahead might include several challenges involving your children, property you own, business-related matters and/or assets. Especially if your marriage has lasted more than seven to 10 years, you've likely acquired additional assets and savings, which perhaps you have invested in a diversified manner. Negotiating a fair and agreeable divorce settlement may be difficult if both parties do not fully disclose financial and liability information.
What does it mean to "hide" assets?
Not including an asset on a balance sheet in order to conceal its existence is legally defined as "hiding assets." Not only is this unethical with regard to divorce, it is also illegal. Generally speaking, it is much easier to hide assets than to discover hidden ones. If you're concerned about such matters, you might want to keep the following means people commonly use to hide assets in mind in order to carefully assess your particular situation:
- Cash back at point of purchase: Many people have the option to request "cash back" at the register when using a debit card to purchase things, such as groceries. Doing this on a regular basis is a means used by some to collect a stockpile of cash over time in a secretive manner, since the purchase receipt will not specify the cash-back request but will list the amount as part of the total purchase.
- Separate and/or hidden accounts: It is possible that someone intending to hide assets can take money out of a joint bank account and deposit it into an account that does not include a spouse's name.
- Delaying commissions: Asking an employer to hold off on issuing an earned commission is another common means people use for hiding assets. A typical excuse given to an employer is that one wishes to delay receipt of a commission for tax purposes.
Other ways to hide assets include tax overpayments, claiming to have forgotten about stock options or retirement accounts, and asking an employer to delay a pay raise until a divorce is finalized. If you're worried about these or any other financial issues as you prepare for divorce proceedings, you may seek clarification of state and federal laws, and guidance as to how best to proceed to address financial issues that may be keeping you from achieving a satisfactory settlement.
It's understandable you want to protect your own interests during your divorce. After all, you've likely invested many years of hard work and effort to plan your retirement, make wise investments and purchase your home, as well as any vacation properties you might own. Just because you have decided to end your marriage, does not mean you have to settle for less. Divorce is difficult enough without feeling as though someone is trying to take advantage of you.
You can be proactive in protecting your own rights by retaining the help of a family law attorney experienced in handling high asset divorce cases. Acting alongside an advocate who is prepared to aggressively litigate on your behalf increases your chances of obtaining a fair settlement and allows you to focus on happier things, such as new plans and goals for your future.