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Can you stop a spouse who is hiding assets in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2023 | Divorce |

The answer to the question posed in the title of this post is a resounding “Yes.” You can most definitely stop a spouse who is acting unlawfully in property division proceedings. Hiding assets in a Pennsylvania divorce is a type of perjury (lying to the court), which makes it a punishable offense.  

To stop your spouse from hiding assets, you, of course, must be able to demonstrate evidence that convinces the court such a scheme has, indeed, occurred in your divorce. To gather evidence, it’s helpful to learn more about the most common ways spouses try to walk away from property division proceedings with more than they’re entitled to receive.  

Issues to investigate if you suspect your spouse of hiding assets in a divorce 

Every case is unique; however, the following list provides information regarding some of the most common ways spouses stash cash and hide assets to try to beat the system in a divorce: 

  • If a spouse requests cash back when making a purchase at a register, and does this repeatedly, he or she can amass a hefty pocket full of cash to stash away in a divorce. 
  • Some spouses ask friends or relatives to hold money for them, then tell their exes that they are paying back a loan or lending someone money. 
  • Buying pre-paid gift cards is a common way to hide assets in a divorce. 
  • You might want to review income tax forms and credit card statements to check whether your spouse has been overpaying on purpose. 
  • Has your spouse asked an employer to delay a pay raise or bonus? 

If you’re concerned about a financial issue, and your spouse acts defensive or confrontational, you can take steps to investigate the situation on your own. A financial forensics investigator can provide assistance.  

What to do if you uncover a hidden asset scheme in a divorce 

Pennsylvania operates under equitable property rules in a divorce, meaning that the court splits your marital property and liabilities (debts) between you and your former spouse in a way that it determines is fair. If you want to make sure you receive a fair settlement, you’ll want to bring hidden asset matters to the court’s attention.  

The judge overseeing your case can review whatever evidence you present to substantiate your allegations. If the evidence convinces the judge that your spouse has been trying to hide assets, he or she may decide to issue a “contempt of court” ruling. A judge might make your ex pay your legal fees or may even order jail time, depending on the circumstances.