Divorce is difficult and one of the most financially stressful times in a person’s life. Unfortunately, having to divide your assets down the middle with your soon-to-be ex-spouse can make the situation even worse. In some cases, this may lead people to hide their assets to prevent the courts from dividing what they believe is “rightfully” theirs.
Issues involving hidden assets can create additional financial stress and come with a hefty punishment. However, hidden assets are commonly found in divorce proceedings, and they must be accounted for to divide property fairly after a divorce. Let’s take a closer look at how to spot and deal with hidden assets during a divorce.
Division of Marital Property in Florida
Although Florida is an equitable distribution state, the concept of dividing marital assets through equitable distribution doesn’t always mean that the parties receive exactly 50% of the marital property. Several factors affect how marital property is divided between spouses, and it’s essential to understand these factors if you are facing a divorce.
Most property acquired during a marriage is considered marital property, except for inheritance or gifts from third parties. The court determines how to divide marital property in accordance with equitable distribution laws mentioned above. You may be wondering what constitutes an asset to be deemed as “marital property”? This depends on the marriage and individual circumstances, but it typically includes:
- assets acquired during the marriage, including real estate, vehicles, personal property, and bank accounts
- income earned during the marriage
- debts incurred during the marriage
Hidden Assets During a Divorce
It’s common for a spouse to hide assets during a divorce. Often, it’s to avoid paying alimony, child support, or too stiff the other spouse on property division.
The most common way spouses hide money is in the form of cash, and it might be sitting in a bank account that the spouse doesn’t want the court to know about, or it could be in the form of gold, silver, or other precious metals.
If your spouse has assets that you’re unaware of and isn’t disclosed in divorce proceedings, you could be missing out on your fair share of marital property. This can lead to heated disputes and a long and costly legal battle.
Here are some tips for dealing with hidden assets…
Look for suspicious transactions. If you have access to bank statements and credit card statements, examine them carefully for large withdrawals and purchases that don’t seem to have a reasonable explanation—especially if your spouse claimed they were without any money during your marriage.
Also, keep an eye out for loans that don’t seem to make sense—for example, if your spouse was unemployed but claimed they were still making payments on a new car loan this might raise a red flag. Talk with friends and family members who might know your spouse’s spending habits or business interests. You can also hire an accountant to help you find hidden assets that you might have missed.
Never Hide Assets
It can be tempting to hide assets during a divorce, but it’s never a good idea. Whether you put your assets in different names or leave them in an account and don’t tell your spouse about it, there are always ways that the court can find these assets regardless of how they have been hidden.
Trying to hide assets can be detrimental to your case if it comes out that you’ve been dishonest with your spouse and the court. These actions can cause a lengthy divorce proceeding, and in a worst-case scenario, you could be charged with a misdemeanor, fines, and imprisonment for misleading the court.
During a divorce, you may be fighting to get an equal distribution of the assets you once shared while married. Although you might think that your spouse has no assets or isn’t hiding anything you can never be too sure. At Cobb Cole Attorneys at Law, our experienced divorce attorneys will help you identify hidden assets during a divorce and support you through negotiating your settlement agreement; contact us today to schedule a consultation.