The feelings that divorce can bring up and the stress of the process cause some people in North Jersey to do strange and dishonest things. For example, hiding valuable assets from their ex and the family court judge. Whether due to a desire for revenge or simply greed, hidden marital assets is something that you might have to watch out for.
How spouses try to hide marital assets
There are four main schemes for hiding marital property from a spouse during divorce:
- Denying the asset exists
- Temporarily transferring the asset to a third party
- Creating false debt
- Claiming the asset is lost
These strategies generally depend on one thing: the other spouse’s lack of knowledge of household finances. It’s not uncommon in many New Jersey marriages for one spouse to handle all the money matters like the bank accounts, retirement plans and investments. The other spouse trusts the first spouse to take care of them. But when the marriage ends, that trust can be abused.
Looking for clues
If your spouse is suddenly pleading poverty or it seems like there should be more marital property to divide up, it’s time to look for a paper trail. One of the best ways to uncover possible hidden assets is to examine your income tax returns for the past several years. For example, a claimed deduction for property taxes paid can suggest the existence of a piece of real estate you did not know about. Or reported income or losses can reveal things like S corporations, partnerships and other valuable assets your ex never told you about.
Another thing you can do to protect yourself is to gather as many copies of financial documents as you can before you file for divorce. Make copies of statements showing your investments, retirement accounts, bank accounts, mortgages and other important assets. The more information you have, the harder it will be for your ex to deceive you during property division negotiations.
When taking on a dishonest ex, it’s best to work with an ally, like a divorce attorney experienced with complex property division cases.