Going through a divorce is difficult enough, but when you suspect your spouse of hiding assets, it can make the process even more complicated and frustrating. Your marital property, which includes all assets and debts that you have acquired during your marriage, should be divided fairly between both parties. Unfortunately, there are many divorce cases where spouses try to unfairly influence the property division process by concealing money or other valuable assets. Here are five common ways spouses may try to hide assets during divorce, as well as some tips on how to uncover these issues:
1. Hiding Money in Offshore Accounts
One of the most common—and difficult to track—ways people hide assets during a divorce is by transferring funds to overseas accounts. Since these accounts are outside the jurisdiction of the United States, you may be unable to determine their balances, or even whether they exist at all. However, with the help of a forensic accountant or other financial experts, you may be able to uncover improper transfers to these accounts from sole or joint domestic accounts, and your attorney can make sure these issues are addressed correctly during the divorce process.
2. Transferring Property Ownership
In many cases, spouses will attempt to conceal assets by transferring them to others, such as friends, family members, or business partners. They may claim that they are paying back a debt that is owed or making payments for other reasons, but they will plan to have the other person transfer the assets back to them once the divorce is completed.
3. Concealing Money Through a Business
A spouse who is a business owner may take a number of actions to use their business to conceal assets. They may misreport the value of business assets, delay major business deals until after the divorce has been finalized, or claim that personal assets are actually assets owned by the business. A business owner may also pay a salary to a nonexistent employee so that they can funnel funds into a hidden account. A forensic accountant can review a business’s books and uncover these types of issues.
4. Undisclosed Property
In many cases, spouses may fail to disclose all of the property that they own. They may physically conceal cash or other valuables in hiding spots in their home, ask others to hold these items for them temporarily, or place money or property in a safe deposit box. A spouse may also convert money into other assets, such as jewelry or artwork, and they may then undervalue these assets during the discovery phase of divorce.
Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are becoming an increasingly popular method of hiding assets. These currencies can be difficult to track, since they are often held in private digital “wallets,” and a spouse may fail to disclose them during the divorce process. However, they may be uncovered with the help of financial experts who can review transfers from bank accounts to determine when cryptocurrency purchases were made.
Contact Our Milwaukee Divorce Lawyers for Hidden Assets
Unfortunately, many spouses attempt to hide assets during the divorce process in hopes that they can gain an unfair financial advantage. If you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets from you during your divorce, be sure to speak with an experienced Milwaukee, WI property division attorney who can help investigate your financial situation and ensure that you take the proper steps to protect your interests. To learn how Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can assist with these issues during your divorce, set up a free consultation with our attorneys by calling 414-271-1440.