Empowering Clients To Make Informed, Intelligent Decisions

Personalized Attention, Experienced Counsel

Watch out for hidden assets in high asset divorces

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2017 | High-Asset Divorce

Deciding who gets what from a couple’s marital property has never been a simple task. The more possessions and assets a couple has accrued, the harder it can be to determine a fair means of splitting these assets. One spouse (or even both) may feel entitled to more than an equitable share of the acquired marital property. That can provide motivation for someone to start trying to hide assets.

Hiding assets before and in the early stages of a divorce is relatively common. Although this is an ill-advised practice, that doesn’t stop plenty of people from trying it. If you have any reason to believe that your spouse may be intentionally withholding information about assets or if your marital estate is larger than average, seeking professional help with locating hidden assets is a smart move. It will help ensure that the division of assets will be as fair as possible when the time comes.

The courts can’t divide what they don’t know about

Ohio’s stance on the division of assets, excluding situations with valid prenuptial agreements, focuses on equitable distribution. Generally, any assets acquired during the course of the marriage, as well as any debts, will be subject to division. You and your spouse create inventories listing all of your assets, which the courts then use to determine the most fair and equitable means of division.

When one spouse is intentionally hiding assets from the courts and the other spouse, the potential for an unfair and imbalanced division of assets increases. In order to have everything divided in a fair manner, the courts need to have a full accounting of what assets exists and how much they are worth.

Professional help can make all the difference

In addition to legal help for your divorce, you may need to seek out the assistance of a forensic accountant. These professionals will go over your financial records very closely and carefully. If an amount gets deposited into an offshore account, they can probably find it. The same is true for regular cash withdrawals, intended to allow one spouse to build up a secret cache of cash. Even if your spouse has been slowly buying bitcoin, a good forensic accountant can figure that out.

A forensic accountant may also locate expensive purchases that you weren’t aware of or didn’t understand. If your spouse collects valuable items, like sports cards, movie memorabilia or even fine art, you may not realize how much value could be hidden in those items. A forensic accountant can help you determine how much was paid, which can be a great way to price unusual assets. In extreme cases, getting valuation help from a professional in the specific field could determine the current fair market value.

Photo of Craig P. Treneff and Andrea L. Cozza
FindLaw Network