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Finding assets hidden by a spouse in a divorce

When Texas residents are beginning the divorce process, care should be taken to ensure that they get their fair share of marital assets. There are some techniques for uncovering any assets hidden by the other spouse that may be useful. Hiding assets is a common way for a spouse to increase the amount of community property they leave the marriage with. There are a few ways to conceal cash and property that should be investigated. When one spouse owns a business, they could be using that business to hide some assets. This could be in the form of "off the books" payments, a retirement account that isn't being disclosed or even real property that they haven't told their significant other about.

Another way to take community property out of the asset division process is by claiming that the property was purchased prior to the marriage. In these cases, a spouse should obtain documentation that proves the claim that it is separately owned.

Spouses can also hide assets by giving gifts of a cash or loans without interest to their friends or family members. After the divorce, the money is then given back to that spouse, effectively taking it out of the division of property. Bank statements should be checked carefully for any unusual transfers or withdrawals. Any large debts that are paid off should be accompanied by documentation that proves their legitimacy.

Ensuring that all of the couple's community property is included in the property division is important, particularly in a high asset divorce. An attorney may be useful in asking the right questions and examining the documentation as a prelude to negotiating a property division agreement.

Source: NJBIZ, "Industry Insights: Discovering hidden assets in divorce", Angela Scafuri, April 21, 2014

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