Most Long Islanders would like to believe that their spouses are open and honest with them when it comes to assets, yet as an experienced divorce lawyer on Long Island, I have found that this is not always the case when divorce is on the line.
Pay Close Attention to Your Assets
Especially for those considering or involved in divorce, it is important to pay close attention to your existing assets. It is surprisingly common for a spouse to be hiding assets from the other in attempt to cushion themselves from the financial impact of the divorce. Because property acquired during a marriage in New York is considered marital property, with some exceptions (such as a gift or inheritance given specifically to one spouse), it is subject to equitable distribution under New York law. This means that assets will be divided between the two spouses in a way that the court sees as fair and equitable. As a result, some dishonest spouses feel compelled to attempt to hide money or property in order to avoid sharing with their soon-to-be former spouse.
Specifically for clients with complex finances that contain various investments, retirement plans, businesses, stock options, and other assets, it can become onerous to keep track of all the moving parts. In these cases particularly, it becomes more appealing to try to hide assets, and more difficult to find them. The following are some of the ways your soon-to-be ex spouse could be hiding assets from you.
How Your STBX May Try to Hide Assets
Getting Paid in Cash
Income that your spouse receives “under the table” that is not revealed to the court is a hidden asset that can get them into trouble. One way to catch spouses in the act when they are getting paid in cash and failing to report the income on their financial disclosure, is to notice whether they are paying more in bills than they are reporting in income. An experienced divorce attorney or forensic accountant can help you to identify whether your ex has this troubling habit and if it can be proven in court. Further, your ex can face harsh tax consequences for deceiving the IRS, and the court will not hesitate to report this behavior.
Giving Money to Family or Friends to Hold
One way a sneaky spouse might try to move assets out of sight is to collude with family and/or friends to move some of the money a little bit at a time, and have them hold the money for you in safekeeping. Make note of any suspicious transactions and inquire further if there are significant amounts of money involved or if you notice a suspicious pattern.
Writing Checks and Voiding them Later
Some spouses have been known to write checks out of their accounts that do not appear suspicious, but are never cashed because they were never given to the “payable to” and can be voided later. This might be hard to notice, but question any patterns that you find on bank statements. One thing to look out for, if your spouse is an employer, is that he may be writing checks to fake employees who never cash them. The money could come out of the account, but the checks can be voided at a later date once the divorce is finalized.
Hiding Money Is Illegal
It is important to understand that, not only is hiding assets from your spouse and divorce dishonest, it is illegal. In a divorce proceeding in New York, parties (spouses) are required to submit statements about their assets, debts, and income, which must be sworn to under oath. Lying or failing to disclose assets on this sworn statement to the court could result in consequences for you if the assets are discovered by your spouse, his or her attorney, or a forensic accountant who may become involved if your statement is questioned. Keep in mind that jeopardizing your case by hiding assets may cost you far more in litigation expenses than simply disclosing the asset in the first place.
Suspect Your Spouse is Hiding Assets?
Contact an Experienced Long Island Divorce Attorney
If you are involved in a Long Island divorce and you suspect that your spouse might be hiding assets from you, it is essential that you speak to a trusted Long Island divorce attorney so that you can learn your rights and feel confident that you are protected in your divorce. The Divorce Law Office of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. offers free consultations and can guide you through the challenge process of divorce on Long Island. Contact our office today at 631-923-1910 to schedule your free consultation and receive advice from a respected and experienced divorce professional.
For more information about Property Division in your divorce, visit our Complete Guide to Dividing Property in Divorce.
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