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Hiding assets from your spouse may bring trouble

You are not the first person in Florida to contemplate opening that offshore account without your spouse's knowledge. Whether your divorce is imminent or you are simply building a contingency plan, hiding money from a spouse is a step many take at various points in their marriages.

In fact, a recent study by the National Endowment for Financial Education revealed that two out of three marriages exist with a secret account of some kind. Further research shows that 90 percent of divorcing spouses employ some kind of technology to spy on their partner's finances.

Some of the common hiding places

Courts consider most assets accumulated during a marriage to be marital property, which is subject to division between you and your spouse in a divorce. To prevent a spouse from obtaining half or more of their assets, or to secure a more stable post-divorce future for themselves, spouses may stash money in some creative ways:

  • Opening offshore accounts
  • Transferring money to a friend or family member
  • Securing safety deposit boxes
  • Investing without their partners' knowledge
  • Purchasing real estate, jewelry or other valuable items

Even if you feel justified in keeping financial information from your spouse, your lawyer may warn you that doing so during the divorce proceedings is illegal and may cause you more trouble than it is worth.

Tools for finding your secret assets

With an attorney's assistance, your spouse may be able to track the money and find the hiding places you think you have kept secret. Most attorneys have enough experience dealing with hidden assets to know where and how to look. Some of the resources available for seeking hidden money include:

  • Scrutinizing your social media activities
  • Searching your browser history
  • Installing keylogger software
  • Using phone tracking software
  • Opening Smartphone caches
  • Looking for emails and texts from bank accounts, brokerage accounts or Paypal

With a little computer savvy, your spouse may even be able to find the hidden funds alone. Even if his or her discoveries are not admissible in court, the knowledge may lead to other discoveries or it could be used against you during negotiations.

Following professional advice

A divorce often means serious changes in one's financial status. If you are accustomed to living in a certain style, it is natural that you would worry about an impending divorce and the blow it may deliver to your bank account.

Nevertheless, hiding assets during a divorce is against the law. The discovery of those assets becomes easier as technology improves. While there is always the chance that some of your hidden assets may remain secret throughout the divorce proceedings, it is wise to follow the advice of your attorney. With your cooperation, your attorney will work to obtain for you the best possible settlement.

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