Can a divorce attorney help uncover undisclosed or hidden assets?

If one member of a divorcing couple did not play an active role in the marital finances, is there a danger that the other spouse might attempt to hide assets? Can a trust be an asset used to perpetrate this scheme?

As a law firm that works to achieve a fair divorce settlement for our clients, we understand that disputes can arise not only over the disclosure of assets, but also over their valuation. We have experience working with a variety of professionals to get a complete picture of the marital estate.

In that regard, a recent article observes that an increasing number of couples are enlisting the assistance of a forensic accountant in their divorce. Such professionals can help value assets that might otherwise be difficult to assess, such as trusts or partnerships. Even seemingly straightforward personal items, such as artwork or pets, might pose obstacles in the division of assets.

If a family business is involved, a divorce attorney can also investigate whether the business has properly disclosed all of its assets, including the income attributable to the spouse/owner. A spouse attempting to hide assets might otherwise use a shell corporation to conceal the true value of the business from the other divorcing spouse.

A divorce might even intersect with estate planning when a third party trust raises questions. A parent or grandparent might have created the trust for one spouse’s benefit. Although an inheritance is generally considered non-marital property, there might be exceptions that come as an unpleasant surprise in a divorce. An attorney can help protect a divorcing spouse’s interests in this regard, as well.

Source: Forbes, "What Divorcing Women Need To Know About Protecting Third-Party Trusts," Jeff Landers, Oct. 8, 2015