Hidden assets are surprisingly common in marriage and divorce

This article looks at how common hidden assets are and what can be done to uncover them.

Most people who go through a divorce don't want to believe that their former spouse could deceive them. However, when it comes to dividing property deceit is a major problem. That's because hidden assets both during marriage and divorce is a widespread issue and one that many people going through a divorce tend to underestimate. Hiding assets is not only illegal, it also makes it nearly impossible for divorcing spouses to come to a fair settlement. Below is a look at the ways former spouses may hide assets and what can be done about it.

How common are hidden assets?

It's impossible to say just how common it is for an ex-spouse to try to hide assets during a divorce, but, as Forbes reports, it likely happens much more often than most people realize. In fact, one study found that 58 percent of spouses say they have hidden cash from their partner or spouse, while 31 percent of people who have combined assets with their spouse say they have been deceptive about money. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that those deceptive behaviors often continue during divorce.

Hiding assets can take many different forms, such as overstating debts, reporting personal expenses as business expenses, undervaluing marital property, reporting a lower than actual income, or overstating business losses. Of course, some spouses may try to physically hide assets, such as with an offshore bank account or by "lending" a high-value asset to a friend or family member for the duration of their divorce.

Uncovering hidden assets

Trying to uncover hidden assets is not easy and it will require the assistance of a forensic accountant. However, people who suspect that their former spouse is being deceitful about their assets can look for some red flags. As Financial Advisor Magazine points out, one of the first places to look for hidden assets is in tax returns, which may reveal real estate or gambling losses that were not previously disclosed.

Business expense reports could also provide clues about hidden assets. If business expenses took a sudden increase around the time that a divorce was getting underway then that could be a sign that the spouse was trying to depress the value of his or her net worth. Furthermore, it is important to look into whether the former spouse has any uncollected bonuses which can also be used to help hide income.

Family law help

For those going through a divorce it is important to talk to a family law attorney today. An experienced attorney can help with various legal issues related to the divorce, including helping clients uncover a former spouse's hidden records, such as by subpoenaing financial records or by getting clients in touch with a forensic accountant.