Watch out for asset concealment during divorce

Florida's equitable distribution law requires that a divorcing couple's money, property and other assets must be divided between them in a manner that is equitable, or fair. Rather than automatically dividing everything evenly in a 50/50 split, this process requires an in-depth examination of a wide range of factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse's contributions to the household, and the relative financial wellbeing of both individuals.

For divorcing couples in Florida, the first step in the property division process is to take a detailed inventory of all money, investments, personal property, real estate and other assets that they own, whether separately or together, as well as their debts. This helps provide a starting point for the process of deciding who gets what.

Hiding assets is more common than you may expect

Unfortunately, in an effort to influence the outcome of the property division process, some spouses resort to asset concealment - the act of hiding money or other valuable assets during the divorce in order to cheat the other spouse out of his or her fair share.

Needless to say, this tactic is illegal, but it is also alarmingly common. In fact, even during marriage, about one out of three people say they have lied to a spouse about their income, debt or other financial matters, according to research by the National Endowment Fund for Financial Education. Among divorcing spouses, it stands to reason that financial deception is likely to be even more commonplace.

Take steps to protect your finances during divorce

An important part of guarding against the risk of asset concealment during divorce is to be involved and informed about your own finances, as well as those of your spouse. This will help you to spot any irregularities that may occur and will make it more difficult for your spouse to pull the wool over your eyes should he or she be inclined to do so.

It is also a good idea to keep an eye out for any potential red flags that could indicate that a spouse is being dishonest about financial matters. For example:

  • Your spouse seems overly defensive or secretive when discussing finances
  • Your spouse is unreasonably opposed to the idea of having lawyers involved in the divorce
  • Your spouse complains of sudden, unusual financial difficulties
  • Your spouse makes purchases that seem mismatched to his or her claimed income
  • Your spouse opens multiple bank accounts for unclear reasons

If you suspect that your spouse may be concealing assets from you, or if you have other concerns relating to the division of property during divorce, be sure to consult with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer. An attorney with experience in this area of the law can advise you of your rights and will work hard on your behalf to pursue a favorable settlement.