What are some common warning signs of asset concealment during divorce?

Common signs of asset concealment during divorce include secrecy about financial issues, unusual purchases, asset transfers and sudden supposed income loss.

When spouses get divorced in Pennsylvania, each one is entitled to an equitable portion of the assets that each spouse obtained during the marriage. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for one spouse to attempt to deprive the other of property by concealing assets. According to The Wall Street Journal, more than half of people who share assets with a spouse have hidden cash, and 38 percent have lied about other financial issues. During divorce, these antics may become even more common.

Unfortunately, property and debt division is typically not an aspect of a divorce settlement that can be modified later, even if the division was reached based on false information. Therefore, it's essential for divorcing spouses to understand the common warning signs of asset concealment and monitor these signs as the separation progresses.

Sudden financial strife

In the face of divorce and property division, many spouses may suddenly claim to be experiencing financial problems or losses of wealth, according to Forbes. As an example, a spouse may claim that investments have lost value or that a personally owned business is no longer profitable. It is also typically a red flag if a spouse reports income loss yet continues spending as normal.

Concealed information

Spouses who are attempting to hide assets may also become very secretive with their financial information. These spouses may attempt to restrict the other spouse's ability to view accounts and financial statements through the following measures:

  • Having paper statements mailed to another address
  • Denying the other spouse access to online accounts
  • Destroying physical statements or deleting virtual records

If a spouse's expenses exceed his or her apparent income, or if some household bills are not being paid from the main marital accounts, a spouse may be using secret accounts to conceal income.

Asset transfers

The sudden sale or transfer of assets may also be an indication of hidden marital assets. Many divorcing spouses may temporarily transfer assets over to family members, friends or business partners and reclaim them after the settlement is over. During these transfers, spouses may sell these assets at a low cost or misrepresent their value to minimize the amount of the asset's worth that remains in the marital estate.

Questionable expenditures

Finally, according to Forbes, spouses should take note of sudden purchases of easily overlooked and potentially high-value items. Art, antiques, furniture and other types of collectibles may be more valuable than they appear and may be easily resold later. As a result, such purchases can be an easy way for a spouse to hide assets.

Finding hidden assets

Spouses who notice any of these signs should strongly consider taking additional action to determine whether assets are really being concealed. Sometimes, spouses can secure needed information by requesting statements directly from financial institutions. If this isn't effective, spouses may also have the option of subpoenaing official records or questioning the other spouse during deposition in court.

For assistance during this process, most spouses may benefit from consulting with an attorney who has experience in finding hidden assets. An attorney may be able to identify overlooked warning signs of hidden assets and help a spouse seek a more equitable, balanced settlement.