Giving away assets is a common tactic to hide them

You’re worried that your spouse is going to hide assets during the divorce. You’ve been trying to put together a mental list of all of the way that they may do so. Maybe they’ll open up offshore accounts. Maybe they have a safety deposit box stuffed with cash. Maybe they transferred personal assets to their business to make them less visible.

These are all tactics that people use, and you need to be wary of them. You need to know what red flags to watch out for. Hiding assets and lying about it in court is illegal, but that does not necessarily mean your spouse won’t try it.

At the same time, though, remember that there is one simple and easy tactic that people often use: They give the assets away.

How it works

Say your spouse has $100,000 in the bank. You expect to get a percentage of the money from that account, but you don’t know how much is in there. When you check, it’s just $40,000.

What you find out, though, is that your spouse just gave $60,000 to his or her brother. Your spouse claims they owed their brother an old debt and they finally had the money on hand to pay it off, so they figured it was time to take care of that obligation.

As you’ve probably guessed, there was never any debt. They didn’t owe their brother anything. The two of them just concocted that story to transfer the majority of the account out of your family’s name. After the two of you finalize the divorce, the brother will give the $60,000 back to your ex.

Smaller amounts

Of course, this can happen with any amount of money. It’s not always some easily recognizable sum, like $60,000 given over in a single afternoon.

Often, people will chip away at their assets for a long time. They’ll just give someone else $100 here, $50 there. With new technology options like Venmo and PayPal, they can do this on a smartphone in just a few seconds.

The issue is that they can do it for a long time, and all of those little transactions may sort of fly under the radar — especially if you’re not looking for them. They can still move a substantial amount of money out of the account over time. If your spouse has been thinking about or threatening divorce for years, they may have started this process long before you even thought about it.

Your rights

If you think that your spouse is hiding some of the assets that you deserve, it is critical that you understand your rights and the legal options at your disposal.