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Hidden assets complicate property division in divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2023 | Divorce

If you’re a Maryland parent who has determined that you want to move on in life with your children but not your spouse, you have some decisions to make. You, of course, have your children’s best interests in mind and want your decisions to cause the least amount of disruption and stress in your children’s lives as possible. By filing for divorce, you’ll not only have to achieve an agreement with your ex about child custody but, also, property division.

Divorce isn’t easy, but when both spouses agree to cooperate and compromise, it can be amicable. If your ex is not cooperative (or honest), however, things can get quite messy in court, especially during property division proceedings. For instance, if your ex is the type of person to try to “beat the system,” he or she may attempt to hide assets.

Hiding assets during property division in a divorce is unlawful

When you file for divorce, you and your spouse must fully disclose all your assets and liabilities. Hiding assets means that your ex is trying to stash cash or manipulate assets to gain more than his or her share when the judge overseeing your case determines an equitable split of marital property. Hiding assets is a form of perjury.

Maryland is an equitable property state, which means that division of marital property must be fair, although not necessarily 50/50. However, if your ex isn’t adhering to disclosure rules, there’s no way for the court to make a fair decision, unless, of course, your ex is caught in the act.

Where to look for hidden assets

If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets in a divorce, you might want to review the following list and determine if any of the issues included are relevant in your case:

  • Has your ex recently given someone money, claiming to be lending it or paying back a loan?
  • Is your spouse getting mail from a bank other than the one where you share an account?
  • Was a pay raise or bonus from your spouse’s employer recently delayed?
  • Did your spouse “accidentally” overpay on a credit card balance or tax return?
  • Is there a recently opened juvenile bank account for one of your children with your spouse’s name on it?

These are just a few of many ways that spouses commonly hide assets in divorce. If you suspect that your spouse is doing one or more of these things, a forensic accountant can further investigate the matter.

Understating the value of an asset

In addition to trying to hide money, a spouse who is attempting a hidden asset scheme in a Maryland divorce might include all assets on a disclosure form but underestimate the value of one or more items. If you think this is the case, you can request a valuation of the property in question.

Hiding assets makes divorce more stressful for everyone involved, including the judge. He or she may decide to hold your ex in contempt if you bring evidence to light that proves the deceit.

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