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6 Things You Need to Know About Hidden Assets in Divorce

Many spouses facing the divorce process rightfully have concerns about their financial future and the division of assets and debts. That’s because New Jersey law requires all property obtained during the course of a marriage to be divided in an equitable and just manner in divorce. However, there are times when those concerns cause some spouses to conceal, relocate, or otherwise hide assets that would be subject to equitable distribution – which can make for some unique legal challenges.

At Moskowitz Law Group, LLC, our New Jersey divorce lawyers utilize over 50 years of combined experience to protect our clients’ rights and the things which matter most to them. Because hidden assets can jeopardize a spouse’s right to their fair share of property during divorce, we wanted to provide some important information about hidden assets, how they impact the divorce process, and the steps we can help clients take to ensure a fair outcome:

  1. It’s never a good idea – No matter what form it takes, hiding, concealing, relocating, or intentionally misreporting assets in a divorce is never a good idea. Hiding assets can harm your reputation and credibility with the court, which isn’t a good thing in terms of the court’s ability to rule on certain aspects of a divorce. In some cases, hiding assets can also create civil and criminal liability, such as those caused by being held in contempt of court or being charged with a crime like perjury. Working with an attorney to deftly handle the any allegations can be critical to mitigating any consequences, and generally ensure you take lawful measures to protect your assets.
  2. How it can impact a divorce – As mentioned above, hidden assets can have a tremendous impact on a divorce. That’s true not only for individuals who are accused and have their credibility harmed in matters involving property division terms or payments for spousal support (alimony) or child support, but also spouses who suspect their soon-to-be former spouse may be concealing assets. That’s because hidden assets can change the financial picture of one spouse, and result in unfair awards in matters involving property division or alimony. In short, a spouse who hides assets may be able to benefit from retaining property or assets that would have otherwise been subject to equitable distribution.
  3. How assets are commonly concealed – Assets can be concealed in a number of ways during divorce proceedings. Some of the most common methods are relatively straightforward, such as having another person hold on to certain property during a divorce by selling it to them at a low price. Others may be more complex or may require further investigation, such as the creation of hidden or secret accounts, offshore holdings, vague business assets, or even assets held in non-traditional means, such as digital currency.
  4. Certain factors can increase risks – Any spouse has the potential to conceal and hide assets, but there are some circumstances that may increase risks for hidden assets. This is especially true when a spouse owns a business or is self-employed, as they have greater opportunity to misreport their income and assets. Other factors may include connections or business relationships with individuals in another country, or complex financial arrangements.
  5. Steps you can take during divorce – If you have reason to believe a spouse is hiding assets for the purposes of improving their position in a divorce, you have rights and options. By working with an attorney, you can compel a spouse to provide a full disclosure of their financial situation, including any important documents about their income or a business they may own. You may also have an attorney conduct a deposition of your spouse to have them answer questions under oath. Additionally, attorneys and financial experts can be used to conduct investigations, financial tracing, and valuation to ensure all assets and property are fully accounted for.
  6. Available options after divorce – If you discover a former spouse hid assets after a divorce has already been finalized, you may still have options to protect your rights. Many finalized divorce decrees and agreements contain provisions that address such issues, which may provide the basis for enforcement and the distribution of concealed assets. Taking steps to pursue legal action can not only help spouses recover assets to which they are lawfully entitled, but also obtain punitive damages against the spouse for their conduct.

The division of assets and debts can be a difficult and contested matter in any divorce, and it is only made more challenging when there are issues involving hidden or concealed assets. If you would like more information about addressing these and other financial issues during your own divorce case, our legal team at Moskowitz Law Group, LLC is here to help.

Contact us today for a FREE review of your case. Our firm serves clients throughout Bergen County, the state of New Jersey, and New York!