What Types of Assets Can a Spouse Hide in a Divorce?
Divorces often turn ugly. Spouses may feel bitter and want to keep as much property to themselves as possible, or they may want to protect their assets from a soon-to-be ex whom they believe is unworthy. It is not uncommon for there to be allegations of hiding assets in a divorce case. One spouse may have been planning a divorce for some time and may have already started removing assets from the marital home and concealing their location. It is important to know what types of assets may be hidden and how to possibly uncover them.
Assets that are commonly hidden
Nearly any type of asset can be hidden. However, the assets that are most commonly hidden include:
- Mutual funds
- Savings bonds and bearer municipal bonds
- Cash value in insurance policies, variable annuities or other assets
These are primarily liquid assets. However, cash can be converted into personal property such as art, jewelry, vehicles, boats, planes, collectibles, antiques and other expensive assets. These tangible assets may then be hidden.
Ways assets are hidden
There are many ways assets can be hidden. Some common methods include:
- Conversion – An asset is converted to another asset that the other spouse may not be aware of, such as converting cash into an expensive piece of art. Assets can also be converted into assets that are not as valuable or noticeable, such as hobby equipment, gun collections or tools.
- Third parties – Assets may be hidden intentionally or unintentionally by third parties. A spouse may ask a friend, family member, coworker, neighbor or other third party to hold onto an asset. He or she may make loans to third parties and then not include these loans in financial disclosures. A cheating spouse may buy expensive assets for his or her paramour or pay ongoing expenses. Assets may be transferred into another person’s name. Some spouses may even transfer assets into their children’s names. Employees may postpone bonus payments or defer a raise until after the divorce is finalized to lower the other spouse’s share of these assets.
- False documents – False documents may be used to conceal the identity or value of certain assets. Income may not be reported on tax returns in an attempt to hide it.
- Debt payments – Paying off debts can be one way of hiding assets if the other spouse is unaware of these payments. Mortgages, vehicle loans or credit card debts may be paid down.
- Business holdings – Spouses who own businesses may use the corporate entity to conceal assets. Salaries may be reported for employees who do not exist. They may be paid to people the spouse knows and then repaid to the business owner. Assets may be hidden in the business location.
Ways to find hidden assets
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that experienced divorce lawyers can uncover hidden assets, including the following:
- Review of documents – Divorce lawyers can review documents like tax returns, business filings, bank statements, credit card statements and investment account statements to determine the identity of assets, their potential location and their approximate value.
- Searches – Lawyers may search with relevant agencies to find assets, including the secretary of state and department of motor vehicles.
- Discovery – Family law lawyers can use formal discovery techniques like interrogatories, requests for production and subpoenas to gather important information that can lead to hidden assets.
Our skilled Murfreesboro divorce lawyers protect your best interests
Our Murfreesboro divorce lawyers are familiar with the many tactics spouses use to hide valuable assets. We are committed to helping you get your fair share in a divorce case and employ a variety of strategies to uncover hidden assets. Contact Dotson and Taylor, Attorneys at Law online or call us at 615-890-1982 to schedule a confidential consultation with a leading Tennessee divorce lawyer.