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Hidden assets, division of property and sharing information

Pennsylvania is not a community property state, so property is not split 50/50 in a divorce as it might be in a state like California. One California woman was concerned because although she had been the main earner for around a decade, her husband wanted the entire home and half of her 401(k) in the divorce. He also was sharing information about her finances with his sister. The woman suspected that he was also hiding assets.

In any state, an individual may be able to draw social security benefits on an ex-spouse's earnings. The person drawing benefits must remain unmarried, and the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years.

Spouses are not supposed to hide assets from one another in a divorce. So a person might want to note the names of the financial institutions that appear on the envelopes of any mail his or her spouse may receive. An individual also should document all communication with his or her spouse. Pursuing someone for sharing information inappropriately could end up being more expensive than it's worth, but it could be stopped with a letter from an attorney.

Under community property laws, the woman's husband is entitled to half the 401(k) even though he didn't contribute to it but not the entire home. It would be divided 50/50 like the other marital property.

In Pennsylvania, there may be more variation in how assets are divided. A couple might be able to negotiate asset division on their own by agreeing to let one person keep the home while the other one gets the retirement account. However, in a high-asset divorce, property division may be more complex than this. For example, one person might own a business. If no provisions have been made in the event of divorce, the other spouse may be able to claim some ownership of the business.

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