4 places to look for hidden assets during a divorce in Florida

It is an unfortunately common practice for a spouse to try to hide assets prior to going through a divorce.

A recent poll gives a startling insight into financial infidelity in Florida and across the country. CreditCards.com conducted a survey that found that 6 percent of Americans have a secret credit card or bank account that is hidden from their spouses. Further, about one in five people in a relationship say that their partner has not known about purchases upward of $500.

While this type of secrecy can be problematic during a marriage, it poses an even bigger issue when a divorce is imminent. Floridians who are drawing up papers should be aware of how spouses could try to hide assets.

The signs that something is amiss

Forbes magazine outlines a number of signs that a spouse could be hiding an asset. For example, if account statements suddenly stop arriving at home or in a spouse's email, it could be because his or her partner is trying to conceal something. Some other symptoms that an asset could be hidden include the following:

  • A spouse's business suddenly appears to be struggling because no new clients are coming on board but new employees are.
  • A spouse starts overpaying on debts or bills.
  • A spouse elects to defer or delay salary and commissions.

A sudden change in behavior can also raise suspicions. When a spouse becomes defensive or aggressive, it could be a sign that he or she has a secret. Fortunately, there are four common places where people try to hide money or property:

1. Friends and family

In some cases, a spouse may start creating debt to friends or family in order to allow those people to hold onto cash until the divorce is over. As Forbes points out, a spouse could also transfer stock or other types of investments into the name of a family member or another entity that could transfer the assets back after the divorce.

2. New accounts

A spouse could try to stash money by opening a new bank account in a child's name or even in the name of a new girlfriend or boyfriend. A custodial account for a minor would likely be easier to discover than an account opened in the name of someone who is not related.

3. New property

Another way to cover up money is to convert it into real property. The Association of Divorce Financial Planners reports that a spouse could purchase jewelry, vehicles or something to satisfy a hobby in an attempt to hide value. That property could easily be overlooked during a divorce if a spouse does not know to search for it.

4. The family business

Lastly, a spouse could try to use a business to hide assets. For example, someone could create fake employees or contractors and pay them a salary, voiding the checks after the divorce.

Finding the assets

The ADFP points out that the best way to uncover hidden assets is to work with a professional forensic accountant or investigator. These people will study tax returns, account statements and a business' cash flow to identify where money may have been concealed.

Anyone who suspects a spouse may be committing financial deception should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

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