You are in the midst of a divorce and trying to crunch the numbers on your marital assets and debts. Something seems a little off. Your joint assets seem to be shrinking while your debt is quite high, often accrued in the recent past. What's really going on - is your ex squirreling away joint marital assets and running up debts?
He or she very well could be. This tactic is illegal, yet it goes on all the time. It's most often perpetrated against the less financially-savvy spouse in the marriage. If you suspect that your spouse may be playing fast and loose with marital assets, below are some common ways it's done.
- Running up joint debt for cash advances on debit cards. Pocketing an extra $60-$80 every time you make a purchase with your debit card will turn into a nice little nest egg over time. Meanwhile, it simply looks like a purchase for household goods or groceries.
- Funneling joint assets into a separate account. Getting caught will land you in hot water, but your spouse must know what's there to catch you.
- Switching marital assets to a friend's or relative's account. This is temporary until the divorce is finalized. Then the assets are transferred back into an account with only one spouse's name on it.
- Collude with a boss to delay payment of commissions, raises or bonuses and delay promotions. Some say it's for tax purposes, others are more direct. Either way, it reduces the other spouse's potential claims.
- Pay too much in federal income tax. This is downright diabolical, as the Internal Revenue Service unwittingly becomes a partner in ripping off one partner in the marriage. By taking one year's refund for a future year's tax, you set yourself up to receive a large overpayment in only your name.
- Don't disclose all pension benefits for which your spouse is eligible. It just slipped your mind, right?
Don't get the shaft in your divorce
Even if you weren't the one who took care of the finances in your marriage, you can still get a fair shake in your property settlement. Your family law attorney can recommend a forensic accountant who can go over the marital finances and discover discrepancies and suspicious patterns that might indicate deception. You deserve your share under the law, and you don't have to settle for less.