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Is your spouse hiding assets during your divorce?

Any divorce proceeding has its complexities, but those complexities multiply when hidden or offshore assets and bank accounts are involved. That's what one woman quickly learned when her husband was hiding over $400 million dollars from her in offshore accounts.

She was married to a very wealthy businessman. They owned multiple homes and some very large assets, but her husband was able to hide enormous sums of money and cover up how much he truly had via offshore accounts. However, when they actually filed for divorce and investigations of their property began, it grew increasingly difficult for him to hide the full extent of his wealth.

In any divorce proceeding, transparency is essential. Lying, hiding, or giving false information about one's property is illegal, and property cannot be divided until everything has been disclosed. Despite this, it is actually fairly common for people to hide their worth during a divorce. The woman's now ex-husband almost ruined himself by doing this. His deception is ultimately what led him to revealing his offshore accounts. If he didn't, the judge would have ordered a 50/50 split and he didn't actually have that much liquid wealth in his possession to give.

Warning signs of hidden assets

There are often warning signs that a spouse is hiding money or property from their partner. Sometimes a spouse is deceptive about money from the beginning of the marriage, which is why it's important for both people to be involved in the family's finances, but certain behaviors can crop up when a marriage is headed for divorce that indicate a high likelihood of deception.

One huge sign to watch for is a sudden change in where bank statements are sent or if bank statements go to a spouse's private P.O. box. This could signal that your spouse is trying to hide financial transactions. You should also investigate your financial state if your spouse has sole control of the family's bank accounts or if they suddenly open private accounts for seemingly no reason.

Changes in income or spending habits can be an indicator as well. One tactic for hiding money is to make overpayments on taxes so that the person gets a refund after the divorce has already ended, therefore keeping that money to themselves without dividing it. You should also be wary if your spouse experiences, or says they experience, a decrease in salary but there is no decrease in the family's expenses or ability to make payments.

Amid suspicious activity like the tactics discussed above, be aware of general secrecy or defensiveness about finances while going through a divorce. Spouses need to be as candid as possible in a divorce, so attitudes of secrecy can raise questions about what's going on.

If you are considering or would like to file for a divorce, watch for these signs and make sure to contact an attorney who is experienced in high-asset cases. Offshore accounts and hidden assets make divorces especially complicated and difficult to sort through, so it's important to have an expert at your side.

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