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What To Do If You Think Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets During Divorce?

A woman who thinks her spouse is hiding assets during divorce

Navigating the challenging time of divorce is no easy feat, particularly when substantial assets are involved. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for some individuals to attempt to hide assets in an effort to avoid an equitable distribution. This underhanded (and illegal) tactic not only complicates the process but also escalates the stress levels for all parties involved. If you are in the process of ending your marriage and think your spouse is hiding assets during divorce, you might want to speak with a lawyer to understand your legal rights. The lawyers at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, assist clients undergoing divorce in Meredith and other parts of New Hampshire. Schedule a case evaluation with our compassionate divorce lawyers by calling (603)707-4800. 

What Is Considered Hiding Assets During a Divorce?

A new job may affect child custody. According to the New Hampshire General Court, family courts in the state will consider the ability of each parent to nurture, love, and guide the ch

Hiding assets during a divorce refers to any attempt made by one spouse to keep specific assets undisclosed, providing a dishonest representation of their wealth. Concealing assets is a misconduct, impeding a fair distribution of assets upon divorce. This behavior ranges from simple non-disclosure of savings accounts or personal valuables, to more intricate forms of evasion such as transferring assets to offshore accounts or a third party. Hiding assets from a spouse or partner is not uncommon. A 2021 poll from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) found that 2 in 5 Americans admit to hiding financial accounts or assets from their partners. 

In New Hampshire, the division of marital property must be equitable under Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA) 458:16-a. However, hiding assets flouts the concept of equitable division. In a divorce, assets acquired during the marriage are commonly shared equally, and hiding assets disrupts this fairness. Typically, actions constituting the hiding of assets include, but aren’t limited to:

  1. Omitting Information: Failing to report an asset during financial declarations.
  2. Undervaluing Assets: Deliberately reporting assets’ worth as less than their real value.
  3. Transferring Assets: Shifting assets to a third party or spousal relatives, intending to reclaim post-divorce.
  4. Creating False Debt: Inventing liabilities, often to friends or family, hoping to repay them post-divorce.
  5. Overpaying Taxes: Setting up a situation where the partner will receive a tax refund post-divorce.
  6. Delaying Income: Asking employers to delay bonuses, raises, or contracts until after divorce.

Hiding assets during divorce is often prevalent in cases where one spouse typically manages the finances or brings home the majority of the income. The attempt provides an unfair advantage, with the concealing spouse hoping to keep the hidden assets post-divorce. However, the consequences upon discovery by a judge are severe, with potential legal ramifications varying by state.

ild in question when making decisions related to custody rights. A parent with a demanding, full-time career –– especially one that is unsettled due to a newly-adopted role –– may struggle to give the child enough attention, and the family court may therefore not see them as a suitable Primary Parent. That being said, family courts also consider the ability of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities. In other words, demonstrating career stability may in some cases improve a parent’s chances of being awarded custody. 

Some parents may pursue more flexible careers while facing divorce, as this shift may allow them to spend more time with their children. More importantly, it may send a clear message to family courts that they are willing to prioritize their children over their careers. In the modern era, many professionals can shift to remote or hybrid work – and such shifts can sometimes prove advantageous during custody battles. If a shift toward remote work negatively affects shelter and other necessities, however, this could lead to negative consequences. In other words: New Hampshire family law courts will look to place each parent’s career trajectory and job responsibilities within the context of an overall picture of home life.

How Assets Are Hidden During a Divorce

Hiding assets during divorce typically involves complex tactics with the motive of gaining an unfair financial advantage during a divorce. Exploiting the nuances of legal ownership takes center stage in these scenarios, as individuals devise methods to keep properties of substantial worth from being recognized as part of the marital estate.

Undisclosed Offshore Accounts

A method commonly employed involves the establishment of offshore accounts in covert locations. These unidentified foreign accounts often work as invisible storage vaults for cash, stocks, and other forms of liquid wealth which are difficult to trace without international cooperation.

Fraudulent Transfers

Fraudulent transfer entails allocating substantial amounts of wealth to friends, relatives or business partners to keep them ‘out-of-reach’ during divorce proceedings. These ‘keepers’ securely hold onto the assets until the conclusion of the divorce process, after which they revert ownership.

Valuation Manipulation

Manipulating the valuation of assets falls under another underhanded tactic used in these cases. This usually applies to business assets or properties where a spouse intentionally undervalues or understates the worth of an asset to reduce the share awarded to the other party.

Delaying Payment Agreements

Some high-income earners opt to postpone significant business dealings and contract payments to post-divorce dates. This creates a wrongful impression of lowered income level during the divorce proceedings, reducing the applicable alimony or child support payments.

Overpayment of Taxes or Creditors

Simulating overpayment of taxes or debts to creditors constitutes another tactic. In this scheme, a spouse pays excessive amounts resulting in substantial tax refunds or debt credits after the divorce.

Funds Hidden in Pension Plans

Pension plans serve as excellent hideaways for funds due to their often overly complicated and lengthy disclosure processes. Frequently, funds redirected into these plans remain unnoticed unless meticulously audited.

Each of these methods underlines the lengths to which spouses might go to ensure an ‘advantageous’ outcome in divorce proceedings. It’s important to be vigilant on the lookout for such dishonest practices and seek legal advice when necessary, to protect personal financial interests during divorce proceedings. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets during divorce, our lawyers at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, can help you take the necessary steps to uncover hidden assets and ensure all marital property is divided fairly. 

How Hidden Assets Can Be Found During a Divorce

Detecting hidden assets during a divorce involves strategic steps. Specific methods, coupled with the assistance of a skilled lawyer, can offer insight into potential asset concealment. In many cases, uncovering hidden assets in a divorce involves the following steps: 

  1. Retaining a Forensic Accountant: Engaging a forensic accountant could be a key step. Forensic accountants scrutinize your spouse’s financial statements, identify discrepancies, trace funds, and potentially uncover hidden assets. Their expertise in the financial landscape aids in detecting complex schemes that might aid in asset concealment.
  2. Observing Lifestyle and Spending Habits: Your spouse’s spending habits or sudden changes in lifestyle might indicate asset concealment. For example, unexplained large purchases or sudden increased expenses might mean that assets are being hidden. Understanding these patterns can provide crucial leads.
  3. Scrutinizing Financial Statements and Documents: Regularly check and analyze bank statements, tax returns, and other financial documents. Look for inconsistencies such as suddenly lowered income, an increase in debt, or unusual expenses. These records can contain hints about the movement of money and possibly hidden assets.
  4. Examining Business Transactions and Investments: If your spouse is a business owner, scrutinizing business transactions can be beneficial. Unusual transactions, inflated expenses, or siphoning of funds could indicate an attempt to hide assets. Similarly, recent investments, especially in assets with fluctuating values like cryptocurrencies, can conceal wealth.
  5. Hiring Private Investigators: In some situations, hiring a private investigator can assist in finding concealed assets. Detectives can explore leads that may not be available through financial statements, such as hidden offshore accounts or real estate holdings.
  6. Using Legal Means: Legal tools such as interrogatories, depositions, or subpoenas can be used to gather information about your spouse’s assets. Lawyers could demand disclosure of certain financial documents or require the spouse to answer questions under oath, which can provide vital evidence of hidden assets.

Uncovering hidden assets during a divorce can ensure an equitable asset division. However, proving that your spouse is hiding assets during divorce is not always simple. For this reason, getting the right legal and financial aid could significantly tip the scales in your favor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some commonly asked questions regarding the hiding of assets in a divorce include the following:

What is asset hiding in a divorce?

Hiding assets during a divorce is when one spouse conceals or misrepresents the true value of their assets to avoid a fair division of property. Tactics can include utilizing offshore accounts or manipulation of asset valuations.

Why should I be vigilant about my spouse's financial activities during a divorce?

Being vigilant can help you protect your financial interests during a divorce. Monitoring your spouse’s spending habits, business transactions, and shared financial documents could provide indicators of asset hiding.

How can I uncover hidden assets during a divorce?

Uncovering hidden assets often requires a combination of legal and financial assistance. Consulting an attorney familiar with property division laws, hiring a forensic accountant, and utilizing legal tools like interrogatories and subpoenas are effective avenues of investigation.

What are offshore accounts and how do they relate to asset hiding?

Offshore accounts are bank accounts in foreign countries often used to hide assets during a divorce. They can make it difficult to track money transfers and overall wealth, complicating the property division process.

What is valuation manipulation in the context of divorce?

Valuation manipulation refers to intentionally tampering with the assessed value of property, business, or assets during a divorce. This is done to mislead the court and lessen a spouse’s financial obligations during asset division.

Find Hidden Assets During Divorce with Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets during divorce, you might want to consult with our lawyers at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, to know what you can do to uncover hidden assets and understand the legal remedies available if hidden assets are discovered. Call (603)707-4800 to schedule a case review and discuss your particular situation today. 

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About the Attorney
Jesse Friedman

Jesse has personally represented thousands of clients throughout the State - from juvenile delinquency offenses through homicides. He has extensive trial and litigation experience and has obtained favorable outcomes for thousands of clients throughout the years.

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