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Hiding assets in divorce: Is your spouse doing it?

Don't be surprised if you encounter numerous challenges as you navigate divorce proceedings. You and your spouse must resolve all issues concerning your children, such as where they will live, who will have decision-making authority and how you will financially provide for them. If you can't agree on such matters, you may decide to enter litigation.

Property division is also often a central focus of New York divorce proceedings. Perhaps you and your spouse don't see eye-to-eye when it comes to finances. This might mean that you're in for a fight when it comes time to divide your marital assets. New York is an equitable distribution state, meaning the judge overseeing your case will not necessarily divide your assets 50/50. If you think your spouse is trying to scheme you out of property you're entitled to, you can take action against it.

If you think your spouse is hiding assets

Hiding assets in divorce is not a nice thing to do. It is also illegal. The following list shows some of the most common ways spouses try to gain the upper hand in property division proceedings:

  • Removing money from a jointly owned account: If you notice that your bank statement shows a withdrawal you were unaware of, it is definitely a reason to inquire. If you're not satisfied with the answer your spouse provides, it could mean that you have a hidden asset problem on your hands.
  • Luxury purchases: Has your spouse started spending a lot of money? Asset-hiding spouses sometimes try to hide money by purchasing expensive works of art, jewelry or property, then understating its value on disclosure forms.
  • Delayed pay raise or bonus pay: Was your spouse supposed to get a pay increase or receive compensation as a bonus? If your spouse makes excuses as to why it suddenly didn't happen, it might be worth investigating, as many spouses hide assets by asking employers to hold back money until the court finalizes their divorce.

If your spouse has recently applied for a loan, you can check the court records to see a list of assets and a value estimate. It's also a good idea to seek clarification from friends or family members if your spouse says he or she is paying back a loan or loaning money to someone. This is another easy way to stash cash.

You can stop your spouse from hiding assets

The court isn't going to look favorably on a person who tries to beat the system. Possible penalties for hiding assets in New York include the court holding the guilty party in contempt, as well as possible criminal charges, such as perjury or fraud. You can take immediate steps to bring suspicion of hidden assets to the court's attention. The judge will take it from there.

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