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How might a spouse try to hide assets ahead of a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2020 | Divorce |

One of the core concepts of divorce in Missouri is equitable distribution. That means all marital property the couple had acquired gets divided fairly among both spouses. To do this, everyone needs a full, clear picture of what each partner owns.

However, not everyone wants to play fair. Some spouses will try to hide assets in an attempt to limit how much goes to their soon-to-be former spouse. How might they do this? Here are a few examples.

Turning cash into overlooked items

In order to divvy up assets fairly, you need to know how much certain items are worth. That can be tricky, and it’s something a scheming spouse might try to take advantage of. Would you notice if a spouse suddenly had a few new, high-priced stamps in their collection? Maybe not – but there would certainly be less money in their bank account.

Moving assets around

The goal for a dishonest spouse in this situation is to make it look like they own less than they actually do. To do this, they may try to move assets around. Money could covertly go from a joint account into a new, secret account in their name only. Or maybe they temporarily give valuable items to a trusted friend until the divorce is finalized.

Keeping quiet

Most people don’t know the ins and outs of their partner’s salary and benefits. A spouse trying to conceal assets might try to keep it that way. They may simply not mention things like:

  • Stock options
  • Investments that produce dividends
  • Retirement account options
  • Upcoming bonuses (which they may even purposefully delay until after the divorce)

Hiding cash or high-value items

When unsure what else to do, a spouse might simply try to stash large wads of cash or valuable items in a hiding place. It may be formal, such as in a secret safety deposit box. Other times they might just secret it away in a hiding spot.

Uncovering hidden assets

This is a brief overview of a handful of ways a spouse may try to conceal assets. There are other methods they may try to employ, some quite complex. Fortunately, there are ways to uncover hidden assets.

If someone can demonstrate their spouse has been intentionally hiding property in order to affect the divorce, rest assured, the judge in the divorce proceedings will take that into account. Their attempts to limit their perceived losses during property division may ultimately end up costing them more.

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St. Louis County Bar Association
Illinois State Bar Association
LEX | The Missouri Bar