Divorce, under any circumstances, is an emotional process — especially if the divorce follows infidelity. Along with feelings of anger and betrayal, you may suspect your unfaithful spouse of financial misbehavior, such as hiding assets. This type of fraud is more prevalent in high-asset divorces that are not uncommon in the Plano, Dallas and McKinney areas in Texas.
The foundation for fraud is concealment
If your family’s assets include stocks or bonds, real estate holdings, a family business, and more, the potential hiding places for marital assets are numerous, and could end up being denied of a sizeable portion of your rightful property. Here are some of the entities often used by deceiving spouses with the ultimate goal of defrauding a soon-to-be ex:
- Unfunded trusts
- Shell corporations
- Life insurance
- Safe deposit boxes
- Brokerage accounts
- Online accounts
Your spouse may even accuse you of dissipation, tell friends and relatives that you are clearing out bank accounts or mounting up credit card debts, and convince them to be part of the concealment by covering up the divorce fraud.
While your spouse may accuse you of dissipation — financial fraud in divorce — he or she may actually be the guilty one. This happens when one spouse minimizes marital assets by diverting, hiding or depleting them. Hundreds of ways to do this exist, and some of which include the following:
- Funding of gifts, hotels and trips as part of an extramarital affair
- Gambling losses
- Transferring property or cash to others — only to get it back after the divorce
- Selling assets at below value prices
- Intentionally spending business cash to create a cash-flow problem
- Failing to pay mortgage payments to bring about foreclosure of the family home
- Excessive spending on entertainment and hobbies
- Neglecting personal items and marital property
- Leaving work tools and equipment out and exposed
Any intentional dissipation may give you the right to claim an increased share of the marital assets.
Behavior that raises red flags
If your marriage has lasted for several years, you will likely quickly notice changes in your spouse’s behavior — even if it is subtle. It may pay to be observant after seeing the first red flag, because proving fraudulent intent could be challenging, and the more evidence, the better. Here are some examples of suspicious behavior that might cause red flags to rise:
- Secrecy and the gradual or sudden change in confidentiality in the marriage
- Incoming mail from unfamiliar senders, or the unanticipated rerouting of mail to an office or other address
- Habitual behavior changes without explanation
- Pattern changes that might involve addictions
- Spending excessive amounts of time on a computer or mobile device and closing the screen as soon as somebody enters the room
- Changing passwords that were previously shared
- Getting caught in deceptive behavior and lies
- Concealing financial transaction details
- Unexplained, repeated withdrawals of cash
- Transferring property or funds to friends and family without discussing it with you
While you are combatting feelings of sorrow and anger, your judgment may be clouded enough to hinder any communication with your spouse. Along with the challenge to discover any fraudulent activities, you will have to cope with other issues such as child custody and support, alimony and other intricacies of a high-asset divorce.
Navigating a high-asset divorce can be extremely challenging. For this reason, you may feel overwhelmed when facing all the red flags and knowing that it is time to end your marriage. Fortunately, a seasoned divorce attorney in Plano who is a skilled litigator in the field of family law is available to investigate suspicions of divorce fraud. An experienced lawyer can also provide comprehensive counsel in all other family law matters.