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Family and Criminal Law Blog

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Consequences of Hiding Assets in a Divorce

What actions can I take if I believe my spouse is concealing assets?

Divorce can be costly for some well-to-do individuals.  As such, it is not uncommon for spouses to attempt to conceal their assets from their spouse and the divorce court in order to preserve their wealth.  A spouse may begin planning for divorce long before the actual filing by hiding funds offshore, using trusts, joint partnerships, and the like.  The spouses of those who hide assets may need to take action to uncover the missing assets and obtain their legal stake. Those who attempt to conceal assets could face potential charges from the IRS and negative consequences in divorce court.

Uncovering Hidden Assets

During your Texas divorce, both you and your spouse will be required to disclose all of your separate and marital assets.  Texas is a community property state, which means that all of the couple’s property will be deemed either separate or marital property.  Separate property will generally remain the property of its original owner, while community property will be divided between the spouses.  Commingled assets can lead to tricky property division issues.

If you are in the midst of a divorce and believe your spouse is concealing assets, you will need the help of a divorce attorney to pursue the matter.  Your attorney will likely recommend retaining a forensic CPA.  This experienced CPA will look over your spouse’s personal financial books and corporate books to uncover whether assets are being concealed.  Oil leases often become an issue in Texas, with some spouses hiding a successful leasing deal in a trust unknown to the other spouse.  Spouses have been known to hide funds in all manner of ways, including concealing gold coins or storing funds with family members.

At times, assets will be well hidden offshore.  Uncovering these assets will require a skilled CPA and often court orders, along with the help of an experienced family law attorney.  While pursing the missing assets can prove time consuming, it is necessary where a spouse has a strong suspicion that funds that should rightfully belong to them are being hidden.

Penalties for Concealing Assets

A spouse that hides assets could face a range of consequences.  A divorce judge confronted with a spouse that has concealed assets could order the innocent spouse receive a greater share of the community assets than he or she would otherwise have received, even splitting assets 70/30, in favor of the innocent spouse, in some instances.  Further, depending on the financial actions taken, the spouse caught hiding assets could face charges from the IRS.


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