Divorce proceedings are long drawn processes. Once a divorce petition is filed, it’s the start of long and complex road ahead for the couple till a final settlement is reached. It affects the couple’s rest of the life. At the core of it is the equitable distribution of the marital property. No one enjoys giving up their property, especially a spouse who wants to opt out of marriage. And if there is no prenuptial agreement, avoiding such a situation becomes very difficult.
As a consequence, a spouse who might be contemplating divorce in the long run may devise ways to conceal some income and other assets with the intention of not parting with them in case there is a divorce settlement. This tactics may also be used for minimising child support and alimony obligation. The other spouse, who suspects such wrong doing could be going on, must take steps to substantiate this possible misrepresentation of facts to secure these assets from complete dissipation. He/she must take immediate help of top divorce attorneys in Florida help their cause.
However, suspecting deceit is one thing and establishing it with concrete evidence is an entirely different thing. It usually requires the services of a forensic accountant to get to the depth of this conspiracy by tracing where the money is hidden and how it was being spent. The suspecting spouse, though, must first recognize that something fishy is going on and what legal bearing such a deceitful behaviour could have on the outcome of a divorce suit. Severity of both these issues is often the decisive factor in whether or not a spouse would want a forensic accountant to delve into the finances of the other spouse and how to negotiate a settlement or litigate a resolution.
Signs of Hidden Assets
How a couple decides to delegate financial responsibilities between themself is their prerogative. It is generally seen that one of the spouse takes the lead in managing the family finances and it’s totally based on trust. Depending on the extent of control and transparency in financial dealings, it can lead to a situation where this spouse starts concealing assets contemplating a possible divorce. In such a scenario, however, there are some behavioural changes that may indicate that the spouse is thinking of getting out of the relationship. Some of these warning signals that should prompt action, when noticed, could be:
Unexplained large withdrawals from their joint accounts;
Opening a separate account in child’s name;
Diverting money in the garb of gifts to family and friends;
Keeping multiple cell phones;
Making fake payments;
Overpaying income taxes;
Taking unexpected trips.
Legal implications of hiding assets
If these signs are consistently visible, and more importantly when more than one sign are evident, then the other spouse must take steps to find out if any concealment is taking place. If this spouse is convinced that some sort of concealment is happening, then he/she should hire a private investigator to get access to the tax returns from the IRS and perhaps, also, hire a forensic accountant to look into the financial records. Once it is established that assets are being hidden, it can have significant impact on the outcome of a divorce.
Florida is no fault state, which means neither party must find fault or wrong doing on the other. It is an equitable property division, which implies that marital property should be divided equally between the spouses. When a divorce petition is filed, one factor that the courts must consider is whether a spouse deprived the other of marital assets for non- marital purposes during the two years preceding the filing of the case or during the pendency of the case. In such circumstances, the court usually awards the financially deprived spouse a larger share of the couple’s property to account for the misdemeanour of the other spouse. Further, the alimony and child support awards takes into consideration the income and financial standing of each spouse. If the issue of hidden assets is established, this additional money can be considered to enhance this obligation.
Seeking advice from top divorce attorneys in Florida
Divorce brings irrevocable changes in a couple’s life. There are significant changes in the couple’s financial resources. And not every spouse is willing to fairly divide assets. In such cases a spouse might employ all possible means to conceal as much asset as possible to avoid parting with them in a divorce settlement. If you have any suspicion that your spouse is hiding income or any other property, talk to any Divorce Lawyer Fort Pierce in Florida as soon as possible. The longer you take to address the issue more difficult it would become to unearth the hidden assets. Your prompt action is the key to recovering these hidden assets.
However, there are certain jurisdictional requirements that must be followed in order to file a marriage dissolution suit in Florida. During the proceeding, both parties are required to file and exchange financial affidavits and other important financial documents generally known as discovery. Most cases are usually resolved without a trial- either through mediation, settlement conferences, or by negotiation and execution of Marriage Settlement Agreement. However, a five minute final hearing in court is necessary for the Judge to execute the “Final Judgement of Dissolution of Marriage”.