Why Do Some Spouses Hide Assets?

Man working on paperwork with Scales of Justice on desk

You entered your marriage trusting that your spouse would "love and honor" you and your marriage, but now you're not so sure. While it seems reasonable (and maybe even obvious) that when an extended marriage ends the joint assets should be divided fairly, not everyone is always on board with this idea.

Sometimes a spouse will hide assets. This is illegal. This is unethical. And it happens much more often than we would like to think. 

Why Hide Assets?

A 2012 report by Fox Business states that there are various reasons a spouse might hide assets. Your spouse may feel he or she earned that money, those retirement funds or stock options. Your spouse may think that because he or she did all of "work" in buying up investment property he or she gets to keep all of it. Your spouse may also want to hide his or her expenses and use those assets in another, new relationship.

Where Are Assets Typically Hidden?

There are many ways to hide money, as reported by Forbes, which include:

  • Transferring stock to "dummy" companies
  • Delaying bonuses or commissions
  • Creating custodial accounts with someone else's SSN

An attorney or firm that works in high-asset divorce will often hire experts to sniff out the money trail. These experts will analyze your assets, living expenses, and purchase histories, as well as all sources of income and loans. Using years of experience and solid methods of investigation, any large discrepancy in reported income, purchases or other assets will be discovered.

What's Often Overlooked

Some purchases may seem innocuous but are real ways to hide money. Some examples include art, antiques, designer furniture, collections (including coins, cards, and stamps), cars, planes or business expenditures.

If your "status quo" income level is not what it used to be, or you strongly suspect your soon-to-be-ex has hidden assets, contact an attorney with high-asset divorce experience.

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