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Divorcing a Spouse You Suspect is Hiding Assets

Division of assets can be one of the most contentious issues during a divorce. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement, Florida law requires a fair division of marital assets and liabilities. This division becomes problematic, however, when one partner hides assets from the other.

Under Florida’s equitable distribution law, each party to a divorce has a duty to disclose all assets and liabilities. They must supply a financial affidavit and a variety of supporting documents, which include state and federal tax returns, pay records, property deeds, bank statements, brokerage account statements, retirement account statements, life insurance policies, lease agreements, loan records and documents relating to investments such as stocks or bonds. After supplying these initial documents, both parties have a continuing duty to supplement records as their financial statuses change.

However, spouses heading toward divorce sometimes seek to put money and assets aside so as to reduce the amount they must share during equitable distribution. You can help bring their deception to light if you know the signs to look for.

There are a number of common ways in which your spouse may try to hide assets. These include:

  • Failing to disclose or denying the existence of an asset
  • Fraudulently transferring the asset to a third party
  • Creating and paying off a false debt
  • Moving assets to offshore accounts
  • Keeping money or other property in safe deposit boxes
  • Creating false business expenses and losses
  • Receiving and hiding unreported income

Many of these actions leave a paper trail. Knowing what to look for can help you spot red flags that may indicate your spouse is withholding information.

If you are in the process of a divorce and suspect your spouse is hiding assets, your attorney — with help from a forensic accountant — can examine financial statements, tax returns and other documents for discrepancies. We can determine whether funds have been removed from joint holdings and can investigate to find their whereabouts. We can also take steps to seek to recover them. If deceptive tactics are shown, we can request a court injunction to prevent additional hiding of assets.

You can also use the power of the court to find and recover missing assets. If the court determines a spouse is intentionally hiding or withholding financial information in violation of the disclosure duty, he or she may be held in contempt, which can result in fines and/or imprisonment. Perjury charges might apply if a spouse lies under oath. They might also face criminal fraud charges for concealing assets from the IRS. As an added punishment, the spouse hiding assets may have to pay court costs and your attorneys’ fees.

The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz, P.A. provides compassionate representation in contested family law matters for clients in South Florida, including Aventura, Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Bal Harbor, Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove. Contact us today at 305-670-8656 or online to schedule a consultation. Se habla español.

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Lawrence S. Katz

For many years, Lawrence S. Katz has helped clients in Florida, throughout the United States and abroad. He has earned an excellent worldwide reputation for providing knowledgeable, quality representation in cross border family law matters and child abduction. He serves as counsel, co-counsel, consultant and expert witness.

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