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Where did all your money go now that you’re getting divorced?

Everybody you talked to and every article you read cautioned you that divorce brought about big financial changes. Somehow, though, you thought that meant that you’d have to adjust to living on a smaller budget — not that your marital assets would suddenly disappear.

Do you find yourself reviewing your financial statements and wondering, “Where did all the money go?” If so, you’re probably the victim of a spouse who has decided to hide the assets rather than split them.

Let’s be perfectly clear: Hiding assets during a divorce is illegal. But the people who do such things usually believe they won’t get caught.

Here are some of the top ways that deceitful spouses try to hide assets during their divorces:

  1. They plan ahead and use cash. Regular cash withdrawals can be mistaken for regular spending, when a spouse is really moving the cash to a friend’s or a safety deposit box somewhere.
  2. They overpay bills. One common trick is to overpay the taxes so that the money looks like a legitimate expense — knowing that they’re eventually going to get all that cash back when they file an amended return. Others have even overpaid credit cards and held onto the checks they got back until after the divorce was over.
  3. They buy some big-ticket items. Sometimes a spouse determined to “win” the divorce will turn the money into valuable objects — like cars, boats, gold, silver and jewelry. The goal is to try to hide the material objects somewhere and then sell them again later.

Generally speaking, the more assets you have, the more complicated your financial holdings will be. The relative complexity may encourage your spouse to take chances and hope that they aren’t discovered. If you’re involved in a high-asset divorce, experienced legal help might be wise.

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