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Gregory S. Johnson, Attorney at Law
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Hidden assets may require work to locate

Among the many concerns for divorcing spouses in Louisiana is ensuring their division of assets allows them to enter their post-divorce life with some financial security. While it may not be possible to maintain the same standard of life one was accustomed to in the marriage, the goal is to avoid a situation where one or both spouses are struggling to make ends meet.

In order to have the best chances for this financial security, it is important that all marital assets are on the table during property division. If you and your spouse have kept your finances separate throughout your marriage, or if you have allowed your spouse control over the family budget, you may have difficulty knowing if your spouse is being completely forthcoming about his or her wealth.

Where do spouses hide assets?

A spouse may hide assets for several reasons. First, your spouse may fear the situation above where the divorce leaves him or her unable to live the same level of lifestyle as before. Keeping some assets secret from you may be some measure of protection against that. Additionally, your spouse may feel you do not deserve to share in his or her assets, especially if your spouse earns more than you or worked outside the home while you cared for the children.

No matter the excuses, unless a prenuptial agreement says otherwise, you have the right to an equal share of all assets acquired during your marriage. If your spouse is unlawfully hiding these assets from you, you would be wise to speak to your attorney about investigating. Some common ways a spouse may hide assets include the following:

  • Depositing money in bank accounts overseas
  • Purchasing real estate, especially cash transactions
  • Buying small valuables such as jewelry, art or coins
  • Investing in valuable animals such as horses

A spouse who is withholding marital assets from pure spite may devalue them to prevent you from obtaining them. It is also common for a spouse to simply have a stash of money hidden somewhere secret. A deceptive spouse may also purchase stocks or bonds, or grow the value of an insurance policy. Some spouses even loan money to friends until after the divorce or ask their employer to delay paying them a bonus until the settlement is finalized.

A skilled attorney will have the resources to track down many hidden assets during a divorce. In some cases, it may be as easy as reviewing past tax returns and bank statements. However, other hidden assets may take more investigation to locate.

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