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When spouses hide assets

Floridians should be on guard against a partner’s attempts to hide marital property during a divorce. The potential consequences of trying to cheat a spouse out of his or her share of a marriage’s assets were discussed in a prior article. Despite the risks, many people may be likely to try it anyway. It is up to each party in a divorce to protect himself or herself from efforts to avoid full disclosure.

Some spouses may go to extraordinary lengths to shield their interests. The Washington Post shared the saga of one man’s attempts to hide his money in offshore accounts by creating a dummy account in Panama. However, the United States has recently made it harder for people to conceal funds offshore. The scheme was ultimately undone by a cooperating witness, and steps Panama took to decrease banking secrecy as part of a treaty with the U.S.

So great was his presumed desire to hide money from his wife that he had carried a significant portion of their wealth with him as he made the 4,000-plus mile trip from Anchorage in his car. $4.6 million would later be placed in the Panamanian account. Along the way, he made a stop in Costa Rica to deposit 1,000 ounces of gold and some portion of the $3 million in cashier’s checks he was carrying.

Ordinary people without the powers of sovereign governments also may have options to reveal a spouse’s attempts to hide money. The Huffington Post advises taking the following measures:

  •          Have a spouse placed under oath for deposition.
  •          Scrutinize financial documents for unexplained spending or transfers, or undisclosed income.
  •          Gather details about benefits by subpoenaing a partner’s employer.
  •          Look for undisclosed real property by checking public records.

Another clue a spouse may be hiding income is when savings are left alone even though, on paper, the family is spending more than it brings in each month.

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Mercedes R. Wechsler, P.A.
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