Hidden Assets In High Net Worth Divorces: Strategies To Uncover And Address

Rear view of woman approaching private plane pulling carryon luggage, greeting flight attendant and pilot; high net worth divorce concept.

Hidden Assets In High Net Worth Divorces: Strategies To Uncover And Address

Divorces can often be painfully stressful, and that may be particularly true when they involve substantial assets. Unfortunately, during those divorces, it is not uncommon for a spouse to attempt to hide property in order to prevent assets from being considered during the division of marital property proceedings. “Marital property” may be anything with monetary value the couple has acquired during the course of their marriage. A few exceptions to the community property rule do exist, such as money a person received during the marital union through an inheritance or personal injury lawsuit. However, both parties must fully disclose all assets when they enter divorce proceedings. Schedule a meeting with a seasoned divorce lawyer in Arizona at Sullivan Law Office by calling 480-719-2558 for more information about uncovering hidden assets during the dissolution of marriage proceedings. 

Why Would Spouses Hide Assets in High Net Worth Divorces?

Someone entering into divorce proceedings may attempt to hide assets for many reasons, including to limit their apparent income and thereby reduce the amount of child or spousal support they are likely to be required to pay. Another reason, especially in community property states, may sometimes be to keep those assets for themselves rather than running the risk that an Arizona family law judge may award those assets to the other spouse as the court distributes the marital property in the course of divorce proceedings

Hidden Assets in Divorce Are More Common Than People Realize

The first step of the division of assets proceedings in divorce is identifying all property as marital or separate and valuing property when necessary. Hiding assets during divorce is illegal, and the individual can face criminal prosecution. However, the practice is, unfortunately, not unusual during high-asset divorces. 

Some signs that one of the divorcing couple is attempting to hide assets and property include: 

  • Objections to handing over the essential financial documentation upon request or court order 
  • One party attempting to have their spouse sign legal documents without reading them or ensuring they understand what they are signing 
  • Sudden purchases of valuable property by family members or close and trusted friends 
  • Family business suddenly having financial problems 
  • Sudden loss of employment under suspicious circumstances

While failing to disclose assets can be a simple oversight in some cases, other times, one of the divorcing spouses attempts to unlawfully conceal money. The issue does tend to be unfortunately common during high-asset divorce proceedings. An experienced divorce attorney at Sullivan Law Office may be able to offer strategic support and legal guidance in the process of uncovering hidden assets to ensure a fair and equitable division of marital property. 

Common Methods for Concealing Assets in a Divorce

Some of the most common methods people in attempts to illegally conceal assets during divorce proceedings include: 

  • Transferring money to a revocable trust to hold the funds until after the divorce is finalized 
  • Offshore accounts the other party is not aware of 
  • Making new purchases, such as expensive art, jewelry, property, and other valuable property 
  • Hiding assets in bank accounts that one spouse is unaware of the other having 
  • Sending money to another outside party as a gift so they can hold the funds in an account until after the divorce 

Uncovering hidden assets in high-net-worth divorces can be difficult, particularly when the spouses have not shared bookkeeping responsibilities during the marriage. Therefore, taking all necessary steps to ensure the equitable division of property is essential. 

Why Is Hiding Assets During Divorce Illegal?

One common issue contested during divorce proceedings is the division of marital property. There are often disagreements regarding determining separate property and other requirements, such as child and spousal support. When mediation cannot settle the dispute, a judge will review the financial documentation and issue an order. 

Both parties are legally required to comply with the ruling. Both parties to the divorce are also legally required to divulge all their assets. Hiding money and other property could lead to the judge holding the person in contempt of court and issuing sanctions and other legal fees. The individual also faces the potential of criminal charges, including fraud. 

Discovery and Disclosure in an Arizona Divorce

Discovery and disclosure is a formal legal process during divorce proceedings in Arizona. The law requires that both spouses exchange all of the documentation to provide an accurate picture of each party’s assets, income, and debt. Spouses divorcing in Maricopa County can take advantage of the Maricopa County Superior Court’s information sheet to get help understanding the required disclosures. 

Generally speaking, both parties of a divorce must provide specific documentation and answer questions regarding property and assets in accordance with Rule 49 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. Both spouses have a legal duty to disclose the required information so that both parties, and the court, will have a complete understanding of the underlying facts as they move through the dissolution of marriage proceedings.

How To Uncover Hidden Assets in a High-Asset Divorce

Finding hidden assets in a high net-worth divorce can be complex, but experienced divorce attorneys have a number of options at their disposal that may assist with uncovering assets of various kinds that one of the spouses may have attempted to conceal. Some examples of ways to find hidden assets include: 

  • The discovery process and a thorough review of all the income documentation, including tax returns, bank statements, and retirement or investment account review 
  • Hiring a forensic accountant who specializes in using various strategies to undercover hidden money and property 
  • Sending subpoenas to require outside parties, such as employers or banks, to testify under oath 
  • Careful examination of public records to review real estate, business, and other purchases of public record 

During the discovery and disclosure portion of divorce proceedings, both parties must comply with state laws and provide financial documentation. Spouses who refuse to produce the required financial documents during discovery may face criminal prosecution. In today’s world, most financial transactions are readily verifiable unless, and in some cases even if, someone makes a significant effort to try and hide them. In particularly difficult cases, an astute attorney may recruit additional resources, such as investigators and forensic accountants, that may help with uncovering hidden assets during the discovery process for a high net worth divorce.

Call an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Arizona Today 

Marital property may include everything accumulated from the date of the marriage. When a couple prepares for divorce, both parties must fully disclose all property to enable the court to properly distribute community property according to the laws of Arizona. Unfortunately, attempting to hide assets in high net-worth divorces is relatively common despite the legal problems a person can face if the attempt at subterfuge is discovered. Seeking the help of experienced counsel can offer numerous benefits when the stakes are high. Meet with a qualified Arizona divorce lawyer at Sullivan Law Office by calling 480-719-2558 to seek help uncovering hidden assets during divorce proceedings.