How do people try to hide their assets during divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2022 | Property Division

Maybe you always knew that your spouse was deceitful – or maybe you’ve just begun to suspect it. Either way, you know that they’re not exactly thrilled with the idea of dividing up their assets with you in your upcoming divorce.

Since California is a community property state, that generally means you’re entitled to half of the marital assets – but your spouse may be hoping to deprive you of what you’re due through a little subterfuge.

People hide assets in all kinds of ways

Exactly how a spouse attempts to hide their assets in a divorce may depend on several factors, including how complex their holdings are and their level of financial sophistication. Some of the most common methods seen include:

  • Stockpiling cash, crypto or gold: If your spouse has always been a little untrustworthy or they planned the divorce in advance, they may have squirreled away a significant amount of money in cash, crypto or gold. If you see regular withdrawals out of your accounts over the last year or so, this is a real possibility.
  • Sudden debts to family or friends: Your spouse may claim that their assets are drained because they had to repay a loan from a close business associate, family member or friend. If that loan seemed to come out of nowhere, you have a right to be suspicious. Often, this is just a pretext for the other party to hold onto the money on your spouse’s behalf until after the divorce.
  • Undisclosed accounts, investments and income: Does your spouse have a business? They may have hidden investments and accounts under their business name or through shell corporations. If they do any transactions in cash, those may have somehow never made it onto their books.
  • Imaginary payroll deductions and expenses: If your spouse is trying to make their business look unprofitable, they may suddenly have unusual expenses that don’t seem to be documented clearly. It’s not unheard of for a business to even have fictional employees – with extraordinary salaries.
  • Undervalued assets: Does your spouse have an extensive collection of valuable art, property or other high-ticket assets? Do the appraisals they submitted seem unusually low? If they’re strangely unwilling to let another appraiser take a look, that may be a signal that the property is seriously undervalued.

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets in your divorce, the wisest thing you can do is seek immediate legal guidance.