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Uncovering hidden assets during a divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2020 | Complex Property Division

Divorce is difficult for many reasons. Like most couples, you may expect custody decisions to be intensely emotional. What may take you by surprise is how hard it can be to divide marital assets and property. It seems like it should be a matter of simple math, but it is rarely so cut and dried. 

Dividing marital property can be a complicated matter. You want all assets and accounts included in the property division process. To be sure neither party leaves anything out of the negotiation, be aware of the following possibilities: 

Undervaluing assets 

Businesses, especially closely held family firms, are often subject to undervaluing. It is crucial that you get accurate figures, which may involve asking industry experts. Real estate values may be disputable as well. You may want to consult multiple professionals to get the most objective and precise assessment possible. 

Forgetting personal property 

All property acquired during marriage is generally considered a marital asset. You will likely remember larger items such as cars, recreational vehicles and boats. However, you may overlook equipment used for hobbies or recreation. Many pastimes require expensive gear. Be sure to count items such as tools, guns, sports equipment and musical instruments when dividing property. 

Remember, this is about the value of the objects, not the objects themselves. Your partner may have bought a closet full of photography equipment that you have no interest in. Including those in the property division does not mean that you will end up with a camera body, a flash unit and three lenses. It means that, if the value of the photography equipment is $5000, your partner can keep the cameras, lenses and accessories — but that entitles you to $2500. 

Hiding accounts 

There are legitimate reasons to stock money away in foreign or offshore accounts. Those reasons may include protection from lawsuits, higher interest rates or privacy concerns. In most circumstances, you and your spouse should still include those funds in the property division. If you have reason to suspect that your spouse owns an undisclosed offshore account, initiate an investigation with the help of a forensic accountant.