Playing Hide and Seek with Marital Assets

January 27, 2015 | By Robert I Whitelaw

Hiding assets during a divorce is sneaky, unethical and illegal – but, unfortunately, it happens.

Hiding assets can be easy to do, especially if one of the parties handles the finances and the other spouse is unaware, uninvolved, uninformed and perhaps even uninterested, in the details of the family finances.

Some tell-tale signs your spouse may be hiding assets are:

  • bank statements and other financial statements are no longer being delivered to the home – your spouse may be sending statements to his/her office and/or a different address in order to hide certain activity in the account(s).
  • a sudden decrease in salary – your spouse may be deferring his/her salary until some time in the future or depositing his/her income into a separate account.
  • overpayments to the IRS with refunds to one party after the divorce is final. There can also be an underreporting of income. If it is underreported, it may be overlooked in the calculation of support.
  • no new clients, but new employees – when one spouse owns a business, there can be many ways to “cook the books.” They may put a friend or family member on the payroll, who does not work in the business but agrees to hold the money until after the divorce is final.
  • Secretive or defensive behavior – if your spouse is defensive, controlling or argumentative about family finances, s/he may be hiding something.
  • Creating phony debt – some spouses may collude with family members and friends to create a debt that is owed during the marriage, but in fact will be repaid to the sneaky spouse after a divorce is final.
  • Cash in safe deposit boxes – if you see the rental of a safe deposit box on a bank statement that you never knew about, it would be prudent to find out what is in the safe deposit box.

Whatever the reason, hiding assets and income is illegal, unethical and may be subject to penalties.

Categorized In: Divorce, Marital Property

About the Authors

Bob Whitelaw

Robert I Whitelaw

Of Counsel

Bob has been one of Philadelphia’s leading divorce attorneys for over four decades, representing clients in the Philadelphia area, the Main Line, Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks and Chester counties and throughout Pennsylvania. He...

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