How to Divide Hidden Assets in Divorce
Divorce is rarely an easy process. Couples can experience a wide range of emotions, from sorrow and frustration to anger and resentment. One of the most contentious portions of divorce is the division of assets. Separating marital assets can become so wrought with emotion that a spouse may resort to hiding assets to avoid seeing them in the hands of their former partner.
At Kessler & Solomiany, LLC, we understand that you may suddenly find yourself in a unique and sometimes frustrating situation. How do you know you can trust your partner to lay all your assets on the table for division? How do you know you are getting what’s fair? Our legal team wants to help you understand where to look for hidden assets and how these assets can be divided during a divorce.
What Are Hidden Assets?
Often, legal terminology can be confusing. However, in terms of hidden assets, the phrase is exactly how it sounds. Hidden assets are assets that one spouse attempts to conceal from another spouse to avoid sharing them. Sometimes, divorce can trigger bitter and resentful feelings between partners. Separating assets and property can be challenging, but the difficulty increases when there is a lack of trust between soon-to-be ex-spouses.
Finding Hidden Assets
Before you can divide hidden assets, you must first find them. Spouses who attempt to hide and protect their assets may become defensive when questioned about financial matters and may not want the divorce handled by attorneys.
Some of the most common ways that a spouse may try to hide assets include:
- Denying assets exist
- Creating false debt
- Transferring assets to a family member or a third-party
- Opening new bank accounts in a family member or child’s name
- Hiding money in safety deposit boxes
- Underreporting income on their tax return
- Transferring stocks
- Deferring bonuses until after a divorce
- Not telling a spouse about pension, military, or retirement accounts
- Skimming cash from their business
- Making salary payments to non-existent business partners or employees
- Undervaluing or physically hiding antiques, jewelry, or artwork
- Not disclosing cryptocurrency or Bitcoin investments
If you believe your spouse is hiding assets from you, share your concerns with a skilled Georgia divorce attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can begin a process known as discovery, which can help uncover potentially hidden assets. An attorney can use several techniques for finding hidden assets:
- Document demands
- Inspection demands
- Third-party subpoenas
Your attorney may have other methods for uncovering hidden assets after assessing the merits of your unique situation.
Consequences for Hiding Assets
If you are going through a divorce, Georgia law requires you to make full financial disclosures on affidavit forms. You must be upfront about your assets, debts, and property holdings. Lying on these forms or giving false testimony in court is perjury. If a spouse is found guilty of lying about their assets, they may face:
- Being ordered to pay their spouse’s attorney fees
- Dismissing the guilty spouse’s claim
- Jail time
Never attempt to hide assets from a spouse of their attorney. It is always better to be clear about your separate and marital property. If you are concerned about your spouse hiding assets and want to ensure you are getting what’s fair, talk to an experienced Georgia divorce attorney.
Dividing Hidden Assets
Georgia subscribes to the equitable division system for dividing assets in a divorce. Equitable division means that a court will review the circumstances of a divorce and divide assets based on its assessment of what is fair. Fair and equal does not necessarily translate into a 50/50 split. To decide what is fair, a court will consider:
- Each spouse’s income
- Each spouse’s earning capacity
- How long the marriage lasted
- The value of assets and property
- The value of debts
- Each spouse’s financial need and economic circumstances
- Custody arrangements
- Financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage
- Tax and economic consequences of property division
The court will also consider specific circumstances like if a spouse gave up work to raise a family or care for an elderly family member. If a spouse is accused of hiding assets, that may factor into the court’s decision as well.
Contact a Georgia Divorce Attorney Today
At Kessler & Solomiany, LLC, we are committed to helping you navigate the process of divorce and help you find a new path forward. You contributed a lot to your marriage. You deserve what’s fair now that it is time to separate. Our experienced divorce lawyers understand how your spouse might try to hide assets, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that everything is accounted for in the divorce decree. Contact our office today by calling (404) 688-8810 to set up an initial consultation to discuss your situation.