Finding Hidden Assets in Divorce
Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state, meaning marital assets and debts will be divided fairly. “Fair” in this context does not always mean 50/50, therefore, one spouse could come out of their divorce with more assets or debts than the other. The thought of this tends to discourage spouses from disclosing all of their assets during their divorce, but hiding assets could only backfire down the road.
Higher-earning spouses tend to hide assets to deprive their other spouse of enjoying the benefits of such assets, which is common in contested divorces where tensions run high. Another reason spouses may hide their assets in divorce is if their income is a key factor for consideration in child support and alimony matters. By hiding or falsely reporting their assets, spouses may assume that they will have to pay less child support or alimony. However, that is hardly ever the case when those hidden assets are uncovered.
Equitably dividing marital property is challenging when spouses hide or misvalue their assets. As such, if you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets in your divorce matter, consider looking into the following:
- Custodial accounts in children’s names
- New bank accounts on your spouse’s name
- Offshore bank accounts
- Unusual transactions, big or small, from martial accounts to your spouse’s account(s)
- Money transfers or false debts to third parties such as friends and family
- Cash kept in traveler’s checks
- Retirement accounts
- Credit reports
- Overpaid taxes
- Unreported income
- Foreign bank accounts
- Delayed bonuses or raises
- Delays in signing long-term business contracts to lower the value of your spouse’s business
- Paying salaries to nonexistent employees
- Increased spending while profits are dropping
- Personal expenses claimed as business expenses
- Business assets transferred to third parties
- Payments to a work colleague or close friend for nonexistent “business expenses” that are later returned to your spouse
- Digital money such as bitcoin is widely popular, unregulated, and somewhat anonymous, so your spouse may be hiding money in the form of cryptocurrencies
Antiques, artwork, jewelry, or other collectibles
- Undervalued collectibles and pricey assets
- Transfer of possessions to third parties
- Safety deposit boxes containing possessions
Spouses may hide these assets by giving them to a friend or family member for concealment, failing to report the assets, establishing trusts, or “gifting” the assets to someone who will later return them when the divorce is finalized.
Regardless of the reason, you want a lawyer who has a wealth of experience and insights into uncovering hidden assets in divorce. This is an all-too-common tactic that ends up delaying and complicating an already difficult situation, therefore, we encourage you to get in touch with our firm so we can help.
How Is Equitable Distribution Determined?
As we mentioned before, equitable does not always mean “equal.” Equitable in this context means “fair,” and fair does not always mean a 50/50 split. That being said, judges will evaluate several factors to determine the equitable distribution of marital property. These factors include but are not limited to:
- Which property is considered marital property
- The value of the marital property
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s income and sources of income
- The economic circumstances of each spouse
- Each spouse’s earning potential
- Each spouse’s contributions in the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of the value of marital property
- Any incidents of marital misconduct (i.e., infidelity or domestic abuse)
- Each spouse’s role in supporting their minor children
Penalty for Hiding Assets in Divorce
Judges do not trust liars, and understandably so. Any deception could cause a judge to lose trust and impose tough penalties as a result. Hiding assets is punishable under the law. Your spouse could be charged with contempt of court and fined. In addition, a judge may order your spouse to pay your attorney fees, private investigator fees, and any court costs and fees associated with uncovering the hidden assets. Your spouse’s lawyer may even stop representing them. Worse, your spouse may have to forfeit all or part of the value of their hidden assets as a consequence.
As you can see, the costs of hiding assets can exceed the value of the hidden assets themselves. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, our lawyers can help. We understand that divorce can bring out the worst in people and cause them to do the unthinkable because they’re in “survival mode.” However, the penalties for concealing assets can affect both sides of the situation.
If you find yourself in this position, McIntyre Tate LLP is in your corner. Our lawyers can provide the powerhouse representation you need to navigate your situation efficiently and confidently. To schedule your consultation and learn more, contact us online or by calling (401) 351-7700!