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Hiding assets in marriage and in divorce

| Dec 1, 2020 | Divorce |

Regardless of how healthy and transparent a relationship may be, there are bound to be some secrets that spouses don’t disclose to one another. That isn’t necessarily a problem, unless it concerns an issue that will directly impact the whole family. Money is just such an issue, yet it is more common to lie about money than most people might assume.

According to a recent poll of 2,000 Americans who are either married or in committed relationships, some 37 percent of respondents admitted to keeping a store of money that their partner doesn’t know about. The size of the average secret stash was just over $2,000.

Money is a major source of conflict between romantic partners, so it isn’t surprising that one may be tempted to keep financial secrets. But in many cases, the secrets themselves become problems that can lead to divorce. Below are some thoughts about how family law can be used to either prevent or address financial infidelity.

Why a prenuptial agreement can help with money disagreements

Our attitudes about spending, saving and debt impact all aspects of our lives – especially our intimate relationships. Most couples don’t have difficult conversations about money until after they get married and a problem arises. By then, it is much harder to resolve differences.

Prenuptial agreements have a reputation as “unromantic,” and this is largely because they cover topics that most couples would prefer not to discuss. But if you and your betrothed can have frank, productive discussions about money prior to getting married, you will be less surprised by your spouse’s financial habits and decisions in the future. A prenuptial agreement is a great reason to have those important discussions.

Hidden assets are sometimes an issue in divorce

Asset division in divorce requires spouses to disclose all assets and debts so that they can be categorized (as separate or marital), valued and eventually divided fairly. Unfortunately, in some cases, one spouse will try to hide assets to keep them out of the official record and, therefore, not subject to division.

Asset concealment is more likely to occur in high-asset divorces due to the often complex and diverse portfolio of assets that wealthier Americans have. However, individuals of any means may try to hide assets, particularly if their divorce is contentious. For these reasons, it is crucial to work with an attorney who will conduct a thorough investigation and dig deeper into financial records that contain inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

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