There are a few signs that a divorce might be imminent, but none are quite as telling as when an individual begins hiding property from his or her spouse. It's important to understand what kinds of behaviors constitute those warning signs, so you know how to spot them if someone in your life starts acting suspiciously. It's also important to remember, though, that these behaviors on their own are just suspicious - it still takes digging to prove that any one of them is directly linked to hidden assets. Here's what to look for if you are starting to get suspicious.
Understanding hidden assets
Before looking into the ways that spouses hide assets from one another, it is important to understand that there are many reasons this might happen, and divorce is just one of them. The fact is, however, that hiding assets is a controlling behavior, and one that is designed to put the individual the assets are hidden from at a disadvantage. While there might be explanations for it, they rarely excuse the fact that one spouse is being totally misled about the value of the couple's shared property.
How assets get hidden
An article in Forbes highlights the various ways that asset hiding happens in marriages, including:
- One partner maintaining total control over accounts and online passwords
- Sending account statements and bills to a private P.O. box or drop box
- Large or meaningful business expenses that have gone unreimbursed at work
- Claiming computer crashes or malfunctions and then disposing of hard drives
- Deleting financial management software suddenly and with little explanation
- Claiming a sudden decline in business fortunes or investment assets
What happens is that one or more of these behaviors typically begin the cycle of asset hiding, and then it grows until one spouse has essentially hidden his or her financial situation from the other.
Regardless of the motivation or reasons, trickery with your mutual personal assets can have large-scale consequences for both partners. Not only is it possible for one partner to essentially use up the household resources without the other discovering it, but it is also easier for that partner to keep assets hidden through a divorce in an attempt to prevent the fair division of property. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, it helps to examine the situation with someone who has experience investigating such matters. It also might be a good idea to discuss your options with an attorney, because you never know what you will find if your financial situation has been hidden from your view.