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Hiding assets in a divorce is illegal

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2021 | Divorce |

A Virginia family court judge often hands down rulings on property division issues. If you file for divorce, you and your spouse must sign an agreement regarding who gets what assets and who is responsible for paying any existing marital debt. This state, like most, operates under equitable property guidelines in divorce. This means that a judge will determine a fair, albeit not necessarily equal, division of marital property between you and your ex.

If you notice that your spouse is acting suspiciously regarding finances or other assets as you prepare for property division proceedings, it could be that you have a hidden asset problem on your hands. Hiding assets in a divorce is unlawful, and the court can hold a person in contempt who attempts such a scheme.

Where to look for hidden assets

Suspecting your spouse of hiding assets in divorce is one thing. Proving it is quite another. If you bring such issues to the court’s attention, the judge will expect you to provide evidence to substantiate your claim. The following list shows places to look if you are trying to gather evidence that your spouse is hiding money or other assets:

  • It pays to search physical locations, such as under a mattress, in a closet or attic, or in a drawer.
  • Many people insert their spouse’s name in an online public records search, which may uncover alternate profiles a spouse is using to hide assets.
  • It’s a good idea to inquire about any loans or repayments a spouse has given to a relative or acquaintance prior to signing a divorce settlement.
  • If a spouse’s name is on a minor’s bank account, he or she may be hiding money in the account or using it as a transfer point when withdrawing money from a jointly owned account.

Other issues are also cause for concern, such as if your spouse was to receive a bonus or raise at work, which then never happened. Sometimes, a person hiding assets will ask an employer to delay a raise or incentive bonus until after his or her divorce is final.

Should you confront your spouse about hidden assets?

It’s understandable that you’d feel hurt or betrayed if you think that the person you were married to is trying to keep you from obtaining a fair settlement in a divorce. It may be best to inquire about any issue that is causing your suspicion. If your spouse provides a logical explanation and you realize it was a misunderstanding, that’s great.

However, if your spouse becomes defensive or angry, or you don’t believe the answer he or she provides when you ask about a financial matter, you may want to further investigate the situation.