One of the most noteworthy issues individuals encounter during a divorce is dividing up their assets. For some individuals the issue is even more precarious especially if one spouse seems to be hiding their assets. It is however quite common for spouses to hide money and assets prior to, and during divorce proceedings.
Whilst hiding money and assets to prevent a fair division of a matrimonial estate is dishonest and unlawful, it is a problem that occurs the world over.
Assets generally consist of the matrimonial home, a secondary home or property investment, financial investments, bank accounts, savings accounts, shares, retirement annuities/pension funds and or provident funds, vehicles and a business to name but a few.
The main purpose of hiding money and assets in a divorce are for a number of reasons, namely:
- To depreciate an asset;
- To not disclose any assets;
- To place oneself into debt and thereafter declare themselves insolvent;
- Stating that one’s income is less than what it is;
- Overinflating monthly expenditures as opposed to what one’s monthly expenditure actually is.
It may not always be possible, but in the event that you believe that your spouse may be considering a divorce or separation, be prepared! It is advisable to try and obtain copies of the following:
- Identification documents – not just for your spouse, but for step/children and other family members who may have a vested interest in funds being held on behalf of your spouse;
- A list of assets and liabilities;
- Sources of income;
- Any company documentation for a self-employed individual or business owner;
- Any title deeds to immovable properties;
- Mortgage bond accounts;
- Bank statements for local and any foreign bank accounts; and
- Trust deeds.
If you are concerned that your spouse may be hiding assets a good option is to speak with your Attorney or your Accountant. In some instances a Forensic Accountant or private investigator may need to be instructed to establish whether your spouse has in fact been hiding assets.
Whilst we don’t ever want to believe that our “better half” would ever go to lengths of hiding assets and money, it is unfortunately a reality for some. Rather be safe than sorry!
For direct answers to your specific personal questions, please contact us directly.
Author – Kate – Bailey Hill