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The sleuth game: uncovering hidden marital property in divorce

Don’t do this if you’re out of sorts over the way your divorce negotiations are going. And be on the lookout for it if you’re an impending ex who just wants to be sure that you’re getting your equitable share of the marital assets in a less-than-amicable split.

“This” is the attempt to hide assets during the divorce process, the intent being to keep more marital property while reducing what will be distributed to your soon-to-be-former partner.

That’s ethically wrong, right? And it can’t be remotely justified on self-righteous grounds that put one spouse’s interests ahead of the other. New Jersey law is crystal clear on divorce-linked property division: marital assets should be fully accounted for and equitably divided upon marriage termination.

Aside from being an ethical taboo, hiding assets is a criminal act that can in some instances yield a spillover from a family court to a criminal venue where the potential downsides are truly stark.

That was recently realized in one state where a spouse’s unlawful attempts to forge and otherwise omit key information relevant to retirement accounts were discovered. That individual’s aim was to make accumulated assets seem greatly reduced from what they actually were. Successfully hiding assets would reduce his divorcing wife’s marital share.

The attempted ruse will cost its author plenty, and far more than the simple readjustment of money figures to accurately reflect his spouse’s fair take. The district attorney overseeing the husband’s criminal case says that the government “will now ask the judge for a tough sentence.”

We referenced the “hide-and-seek” game of hidden assets in a blog post from earlier this year. We noted in our March 2 entry how important it is for a suspecting party to timely enlist the aid of an experienced family law attorney in a concealed-wealth case. Proven legal counsel can help identify, value and ensure an equitable distribution of marital wealth.

That is the only fair outcome.



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