How to detect hidden assets in a high-net worth divorce

When a couple with a high net worth approaches a divorce, things can quickly get ugly. Finances seem to trigger conflict in divorces more often than almost anything else, and when there are a lot of assets at stake, this conflict can be even worse.

One particular issue that some spouses face in a high-net-worth divorce is that of hidden assets. Especially for the spouse who is at a financial disadvantage, hidden assets can be very problematic and impact the financial future of the less-wealthy spouse. If you suspect that your spouse may be hiding assets or attempting to hide assets as you move through your divorce, you should be proactive and take steps to uncover this deception as soon as possible.

Typical ways spouses hide assets

There are several common ways that spouses attempt to hide assets in a divorce proceeding. By knowing these ways, you can be better prepared to spot them if you suspect your spouse is hiding assets. This is especially important because oftentimes, one spouse is already not fully aware of the total extent of marital assets even during the marriage. Offshore bank accounts are one way that a spouse may try to move money around and conceal it from divorce proceedings. You should try to get as much documentation as possible surrounding all your spouse’s bank accounts so that they are considered in the equitable division of assets during your divorce.

Another typical way that spouses try to hide assets is by under-declaring income on their tax return, or by delaying a raise, bonus, or promotion at work until after the divorce becomes final. Sometimes, spouses will move money into a trust under someone else’s name, such as the children, only to withdraw it later.

How to find hidden assets

If you believe your spouse has gone to extensive lengths to conceal marital assets, you may wish to consider the services of a forensic accountant to work with your family law team. Forensic accountants are trained to detect hidden assets and can do so in a divorce case, presenting material that can be used in court. Your divorce attorney can advise you about the best course of action to take if you suspect that hidden assets will play a role in your divorce case.

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