Divorce is stressful. This is a given. Even if you and your divorcing spouse are in complete agreement and are fully committed to keeping your divorce as amicable as possible, these well-meaning plans can quickly go astray. The truth is that the immense stress and uncertainty associated with divorce can push seemingly trustworthy and honest spouses into uncharted territory, including the illegal practice of hiding assets.
While there is no reason to jump to conclusions about your spouse right this minute, it is a good idea to be on the lookout for anything that sparks your attention or gives you pause in relation to your marital assets. One of the most important first steps you can take in the protection of your financial rights is consulting with an experienced Belton divorce lawyer, and Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard has the experience, legal skill, and drive to help. To learn more, please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.
Your Financial Future
The terms of your divorce will essentially guide your financial future, which will obviously significantly affect you and your children’s lives post-divorce. The division of your marital property focuses directly on your identifiable assets, and if your soon-to-be ex is hiding, obscuring, selling off, giving away, or otherwise tampering with these assets, you could be cheated out of financial resources to which you are legally entitled in the process. Additionally, the totality of your marital assets can also affect (less directly) the divorce terms related to your child support and alimony (as applicable). In other words, if your divorcing spouse is hiding assets or engaging in otherwise nefarious financial practices, the time to begin strategizing your best plan of action is now.
How Vulnerable Are You?
Those who are the most vulnerable to having marital assets hidden from them are those who have little to no involvement in family finances. If your marital financials are especially complicated by any of the following, it can leave you even more vulnerable:
Multiple income sources
Even if you and your divorcing spouse are true financial equals in your marriage, it does not leave you bulletproof if your spouse decides to engage in hiding assets. Your finances are likely the most complicated element of your divorce, and the sheer mayhem wrought by the divorce process can make losing sight of your marital finances along the way that much easier to do. In fact, your divorcing spouse may be counting on it.
The most important thing you can do to protect your finances in a divorce (other than teaming up with an experienced divorce lawyer) is to begin systematically gathering all the financial documentation you can find from the outset. If you think it might pertain, make copies of the documents, compile and organize them, and hand them over to your divorce lawyer. The basics include all of the following:
Deeds to any other properties you own
You and your spouse’s paystubs
Your bank accounts
Your credit card statements
Your separate retirement accounts and benefits
Benefits and bonuses related to your separate jobs
Stocks, bonds, and other tools in your financial portfolio
Life insurance policies
Titles to your vehicles, including recreational vehicles
Any pieces or collections of value, such as jewelry or art
Common Concealment Practices
It is not as if your spouse woke up one day and decided to engage in illegal financial practices in relation to your divorce. It is far more common for divorcing spouses to fear losing what they believe is rightfully theirs and to engage in practices they deem financially strategic. This is not to say that this path to hiding assets is right (or even legal), but it can help you better understand how it happens and why you might need to be on the lookout for it. There are several forms of hiding assets that are most common.
Cash is exceptionally easy to hide, and there are rarely any alarm bells that accompany this practice. If your spouse has been contemplating divorce for a while, he or she could have begun squirreling away cash over a considerable amount of time, and you could be none the wiser.
Hedging One’s Income
If your spouse is self-employed or runs your family business, the opportunities available to hide assets or fudge income are nearly limitless. If a business is involved, a forensic accountant may be a necessity. Manipulated business numbers can directly affect not only the division of your marital property but also your child support and alimony (as applicable) and are far too important not to address aggressively.
Playing Fast and Loose with Accounts
Some divorcing spouses divert funds by allowing them to flow into accounts set up for friends, family members, or paramours.
Undervaluing Collections (or Anything Else)
This old thing? It’s practically worthless. Do not be fooled by this strategy. If your spouse has been collecting art, baseball cards, or anything else over the course of your marriage, do not take his or her word for it regarding its value. Yes, the collection may have sentimental value for your spouse, but this does not negate the fact that it is also your investment, and you are entitled to an equitable percentage of its value.
Ultimately, it is illegal to purposefully conceal assets in the course of a divorce, and if your spouse is caught doing so, he or she can be charged with fraud, perjury, contempt of court, or a civil court violation.
An Experienced Belton Divorce Lawyer Can Help
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Belton, Texas, is a well-respected divorce lawyer who is well prepared to employ his extensive experience in support of your financial rights and in pursuit of your case’s most favorable resolution. For more information about how we can help, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.