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Four ways people attempt to hide assets during divorce

If you're over 50 and getting divorced, the division of marital assets can be fairly complex. Both you and your spouse may have consistent income, investment portfolios, retirement plans and pensions, insurance policies, stock options and much more. For business owners or those with at least a stake in a company, the financial picture becomes even more complicated.

This can make it easier for one spouse to attempt to hide assets during divorce. He or she hopes that the other spouse will find it all too overwhelming, won't review the asset statements carefully, and will allow things to slip through the cracks. If you think your spouse is illegally hiding assets, here are a few strategies he or she may employ:

1. Buying items that can be easily overlooked.

Your ex may start buying up items for the office, for example, that seem vastly overpriced. Antique table lamps. Obscure paintings. Collectors' items - like coins or stamps or even guns - to be used as decorations. Your ex may hope you don't care and just let him or her keep the contents of the office without looking into it, knowing tens of thousands of dollars can be hidden in these unnecessary items and then recovered by selling them after the split.

2. Paying too much in taxes.

Most incorrect tax payments err on the low side, but your ex could "accidentally" pay more than the amount owed to the IRS. Then, after the divorce is done, he or she gets that refund check in the mail. That money technically belonged to the IRS when your assets were divided, but your spouse knew it was coming back.

3. Giving away stock.

Lowering the value of a stock portfolio could be simple. You spouse may just create fake company profiles and transfer the stock into the company's ownership. He or she could also transfer it to a friend or family member. After the split is finalized, the friend, family member or company just sends the stock back to your spouse.

4. Refusing to sign new contracts or take a promotion.

Your spouse may try to put his or her professional success on hold. For example, your spouse may be offered a promotion, but turn it down until after the divorce. Or, if your spouse owns a company, he or she could hold off on signing a lucrative contract that brings in a large bonus, only signing when the divorce has gone through. Either way, your spouse is letting potential income sit idle to hide that earning from you.

Remember, it is illegal to cheat the system and hide assets. Honesty and transparency are required in divorce court. If your spouse is hiding them, you need to know what legal options you have. Working with an experienced family law attorney, like those at Walden & Schuster, S.C., ensures that your rights are protected in divorce.

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