Uncovering hidden marital assets in a high-net-worth divorce

Couples with a high net worth face specific challenges when they go through a divorce. A significant asset portfolio means that oftentimes, assets become the central focus of the divorce proceedings or settlement, which can become heated and acrimonious.

One challenge that can be difficult in a high-asset divorce is if a spouse tries to hide marital assets intended for distribution in the divorce process. However, there are ways to combat this problem and to uncover hidden marital assets in a high-net-worth divorce.

Typical ways a spouse hides assets

In most cases, the higher earner in the couple is the one who seeks to hide marital assets to present a lower overall asset picture to the court. One of the most commonly known ways that people hide assets, generally speaking, is in offshore accounts. Hidden bank accounts are one way that a spouse may try to conceal additional cash or assets from a divorce proceeding.

However, there are other, less-obvious ways that some spouses employ. For example, if he or she is up for a raise, promotion, or bonus at work, delaying this additional income until after the divorce becomes final is one way to shield it from division. Some spouses may put significant assets into other peoples’ names, such as children or other family members. Sometimes spouses blatantly withdraw funds from joint accounts and move them to concealed accounts. 

How to uncover hidden assets

Many family law attorneys who work with divorcing clients who have a high net worth have a professional background in helping their clients develop strategies for finding hidden assets. One technique that some attorneys use is bringing a forensic accountant on to the team. Forensic accountants receive training in locating hidden assets, and their testimonies are valid in court. Regardless of the strategy, it is crucial to bring all marital assets to the table for division under the laws of the state where the divorce is taking place. Especially for the spouse who earns less, this becomes a matter of future financial well-being as well as justice and accountability.

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