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What are the risks of hiding assets in divorce?

Whenever a couple divorces while holding significant marital assets, there will be a strong temptation for one or both spouses to act unethically in order keep some assets from being split up and diminished during the settlement negotiation. It's an understandable position — after all, why should this other person take half or more of everything? The law itself may simply seem unfair. Regardless of the fairness of the law, the truth of the matter is that attempting to hide or dissipate assets in a divorce settlement will almost certainly result in a worse result than abiding by the rules.

Finances can be tracked in hundreds of ways these days, and a spouse who believes you may be holding out on him or her can enlist the help of very skilled individuals to investigate all of the ways that you may be attempting to hide or dissipate assets. The urge to protect yourself or to punish your spouse for his or her shortcomings is a natural and understandable instinct, but the potential consequences far outweigh the potential gains.

If a forensic accountant is able to identify hidden assets, the judge overseeing your divorce settlement will certainly not look kindly on you in the proceedings. Practically speaking, this could mean not only losing more than your fair share of the assets you were attempting to hide, but in some extreme cases could even lead to criminal charges, depending on the measures that you took to hide the assets. Furthermore, the tone of the entire negotiation will shift dramatically out of your favor, leaving you with less than you would have gotten in the first place.

While it may not seem emotionally satisfying, a divorce settlement negotiation is not the time or place to punish your spouse or try to fight an unfair system through unethical means. The best way to fight for a fair settlement that leaves you with more of what you deserve is to have strong legal representation who will fight fiercely on your behalf, with the full strength of the law behind them.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Uncovering Hidden Assets in Divorce Litigation," David Centeno, accessed Dec. 16, 2016

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