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If the spouse has a business, the opportunity to hide assets and income is magnified a thousand fold.

Know Marital Finances when You Split

Know Marital Finances when You Split

Settlements: Tips to Find Out if Your Ex Is Hiding Potential Settlement Cash


    If you're getting a divorce, your new best friend should be the Xerox machine. Why? Because you need to document every dollar you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have to ensure it's all considered in the eventual divorce settlement. This means making duplicates of bank and brokerage account statements, insurance policies and any piece of paper that details marital assets. 

If you don't keep close track of your shared property, you make it much easier for your husband or wife to hide assets during the divorce process.  It is usually the higher-earning spouse who tries to conceal assets. Typically, that's still the husband. But either partner might have property he or she doesn’t want considered when it comes time to divide assets. 

There are many reasons people try to keep assets out of the marital pool. They range from simple greed to fear that they won't have enough money after the divorce to feelings of betrayal or anger at the need to divide property, says Stacy Francis, a certified financial planner, also known as a CFP, and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, CDFA.

So if your marriage is ending, should you be worried about missing marital assets? Maybe. Maybe not."Some individuals plan well ahead of time," says Nancy T. Mello, a CDFA and financial advisor with Merrill Lynch's Global Private Client Group in Dallas. "They slowly start opening up accounts in their own names without their spouses realizing it." 

In most cases, however, such financial moves are relatively small scale. "It's not really common for a spouse to intentionally hide assets the minute they think they might be going through divorce," says Lili Vasileff, president of the Association for Divorce Financial Planners. "People do stash away a couple thousand in an account in case they need to hire an attorney or PI. But it's not really big, big stuff. It's rare for it to be significant." 

What's significant, however, is subjective. So it might not hurt to pay attention to your accounts and be aware of indications that your partner is hiding marital assets. 


There is a multitude of ways assets can be hidden and divorce attorneys and financial advisers have seen them all. 

A typical method is moving money from a joint account to an individual one, often opened under the person's previous name. Or the new account could be under the partner's current name but be established at another bank, possibly one in a neighboring town, says Vasileff, whose divorce planning services are detailed at DivorceMatters.com. 

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