Divorce With Respect

Financial infidelity can complicate a high-asset divorce case

With financial deceit in marriage common, the implications for divorce are serious

A recent survey has found that many Americans are less forthcoming about their finances with their spouses than many people would expect. According to CNBC, the survey, conducted by CreditCards.com, found that one-fifth of Americans have concealed a purchase greater than $500 from their spouses. Such financial infidelity, experts say, is a big factor in many divorces and it may complicate many divorce cases, especially high-asset divorces, if the financial deceit continues after the marriage ends.

Millions hide bank accounts

The study found, perhaps surprisingly, that men, at 26 percent, were far more likely than women, at 14 percent, to hide a major purchase from their spouse. In addition to major purchases, however, many Americans are also hiding bank and credit accounts. The study found that 4.4 million men and 2.8 million women had a bank or credit account that their spouse or live-in partner did not know about.

Studies have found that money arguments are the top predictor of divorce. Not only does such financial deception often indicate a breakdown of trust between spouses, but these problems are far more difficult to recover from than other types of arguments. Furthermore, when it comes to actually divorcing, analysts caution that those who try to mislead a spouse about finances during marriage are more likely to maintain the deception going into divorce.

Tracking hidden assets

Although hidden assets can affect any divorce case, they are particularly problematic in high-asset cases. The more complex a divorce is, the more opportunities there are for a spouse to hide assets in the hopes of gaining a more favorable divorce outcome. While every divorce is unique, there are some common approaches many people take in trying to conceal assets.

The most common tactic is for a divorcing spouse who has his or her own business to begin inflating business expenses. If a business starts posting lower profits around the time a divorce begins, it could indicate hidden assets, according to Bloomberg. Other suspicious activities, like sudden flights to tax havens and passwords to financial accounts being changed, are good indicators that something is amiss.

Professional help

Making sure a couple’s community property is valued properly takes the assistance of a qualified professional. If concerns arise about the behavior of an ex-spouse then those concerns should be taken to an expert immediately. Uncovering hidden assets is not only difficult, but people who try to uncover such assets by themselves may inadvertently harm their position by unknowingly violating privacy and other laws. A family law attorney with experience in complex and high-asset divorces can provide invaluable advice to people going through a complicated divorce about how best to move forward.

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