Hidden assets: What you should know

There are many ways that people can hide marital property and spouses need to be on the alert to catch the behavior.

Property division can be a complex process and in many cases, it can generate legal battles over who should get what. Since Texas is an equitable state, and this means property may not be divided down the middle, some people may try to hide marital assets. Therefore, it is important for people to become familiar with this issue and some of the warning signs.

How common is it to hide money?

Money and finances are a huge source of dispute for married couples, especially if one is a saver and one is a spender. Fox Business states that this is because there is power for whoever has the money. Trust and fear are usually the primary motivations for hiding money and according to a recent poll that involved over 1,000 adults, the number of people who held a secret account amounted to almost 7 percent. Out of that number, 45 percent reported having a savings account their partner did not know about and secret credit card accounts were reported by two-thirds.

How do people hide assets?

AOL News states that there are a number of ways that people can successfully hide assets from their spouse in a divorce. For those who own a business, they may use the profits of that business to buy expensive art or other items in the name of that business so they don't have to report the revenue as marital property. For example, a spouse who owns a consulting firm may buy an expensive luxury car as a company car or go on vacation to some exotic location. A business owner trying to hide money may also wait till after the divorce is final to send invoices to clients as a way to avoid having to claim the revenue.

Another method that people often engage in is to transfer money or property to friends and family. For example, a person could transfer his or her boat over to a family member so that the person would not have to report the boat as a marital asset, having relinquished legal ownership of it.

What are the warning signs?

One big warning sign that a spouse may be hiding assets, according to Forbes, is a reluctance or straight out refusal to share financial information. Other warning signs include the following:

  • A financial program used for personal banking gets "accidently" deleted
  • Unable to give a plausible reason for opening additional accounts
  • Claims that the family business is not doing very well
  • Has financial statements sent to another address or a post office box
  • Presents a mutual durable power of attorney
  • Hard drive on a computer disappears after a crash

Additionally, some spouses may try to get the other person to sign some type of legal document without giving them a detailed description of what the document is or letting the person read it.

Going through a divorce is not easy but people in Sugar Land may find it to their benefit to meet with an attorney who can help them understand their rights.