People want to protect themselves financially when going through a divorce.
I hear all of the time from spouses that they think their spouse is hiding assets. Certain types of marital fraud are not uncommon. It occurs not only when one spouse hides assets, but also, when a spouse misleads the other about the value of the known assets.
Divorce planning is often a flagrant effort to hide assets or manipulate their values. More often than not, a highly experienced divorce attorney, combined with a fraud accountant, can investigate and find assets that have been hidden.
What are the warning signs to see if a spouse is engaged in asset manipulation?
Fraud may be happening if sudden changes in income or lifestyle occur.
Red flags include the spouse hiding mail or computer activity from the other, withdrawing money from bank accounts for unknown reasons and being secretive about transactions.
A spouse might also give money away to others without informing the other party.
Dissipation is another kind of fraud that takes place in divorces, as one spouse attempts to spend assets for his or her sole benefit just to keep the other spouse from getting half of the money. Think of the spouse spending money on the person he/she is having an affair with. That is classic dissipation.
Divorce creates the perfect opportunity to encourage fraud. I will often encounter a person who feels that he or she is justified in getting a bigger share of the assets and finds the opportunity to act without being caught. I see a lot of "two wrongs make a right" logic.
Do yourself a favor. When divorce may be on the horizon, get a consult from a highly experienced divorce attorney. Write down all of your concerns and get answers to your questions.
Oh, and if the attorney you consult with says to hire him/her before getting answers, find another divorce attorney.