Hidden Assets

Suppose you are going through a divorce in Bergen County. In that case, you might be concerned that your spouse may try to hide assets that you both worked so hard to accumulate. This may be especially true if you are the spouse who was not primarily responsible for finances during your relationship. Your ex might be trying to hide assets to prevent you from getting your rightful share during the divorce. 

Hiding assets can have severe consequences. Fortunately, there are ways to discover hidden assets and a family lawyer can help.

What Are New Jersey’s Property Division Laws?

Before getting into hidden assets, let’s discuss New Jersey’s property division laws and what might lead to someone trying to hide assets during divorce. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. If a married couple divorces, the couple can reach a settlement about how to divide their property. If they cannot reach an agreement, the court can decide how to split the property. 

Unlike in community property states where the property is divided 50/50, equitable distribution states split the property between the spouses fairly but not necessarily equally. They begin with the presumption that each spouse made a substantial financial or nonfinancial contribution to acquiring income and property during the marriage. 

They then consider various factors to determine how to divide marital property fairly, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and physical and emotional health of each spouse
  • The separate income or property each spouse brought into the marriage 
  • The standard of marriage established during the marriage 
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse when the property is divided
  • The income and earning capacity of each spouse
  • The contribution of each spouse to the education, training, or earning power of the other spouse
  • The present value of property 
  • The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each spouse 
  • Each spouse’s debts and liabilities 
  • The contribution of each spouse to acquiring, appreciating, or depreciating the value of marital property
  • Contributions of either spouse as a homemaker
  • Whether either spouse deferred their career goals
  • The need for the parent who has physical custody of a child to own or live in the marital home and use household items

The court can consider other factors that it considers relevant. When it decides how to divide the property, it must make specific findings of fact regarding why it made the determination. 

Spouses concerned that the court may favor the other spouse or not give them the assets they believe they helped accumulate may sometimes hide them.

What Are Hidden Assets?

In New Jersey, divorcing couples must provide financial disclosures about their income, debts, and assets. Hidden assets are those assets that the spouses are required to inform the other spouse of but fail to do so in an attempt to prevent the spouse from receiving a fair distribution of marital assets. 

Assets can be hidden by hiding their existence, deferring receipt of them, or devaluing them. 

Some common ways that spouses hide assets include:

  • Hiding bank statements and other financial statements from their spouse
  • Removing items from the home and placing them in a secret storage facility or safe deposit box
  • Transferring money to friends and relatives
  • Making “loans” to friends and relatives they have repaid after the divorce is finalized and without disclosing the marital debt
  • Transferring funds from a joint account to a separate one
  • Overpaying bills or taxes
  • Using credit cards to purchase valuable items like jewelry and electronics and then hiding those items or selling them 
  • Intentionally deferring the payment of a bonus or commission until after the divorce
  • Using cryptocurrency
  • Claiming business debts or losses to underreport income
  • Listing a value that is much less than the property is worth in a disclosure 

These are just a few ways spouses may hide assets. There are many others.

What Are the Consequences of Hiding Assets?

It is illegal and unethical to hide assets during a divorce. 

The court can impose various penalties for this misconduct, including:

  • Finding the deceptive spouse in contempt of court and subject to criminal penalties, including jail time and fines
  • Having the hidden property turned over to the other spouse
  • Having to pay monetary fines as a penalty
  • Having to pay the other spouse’s attorney’s fees
  • Losing credibility with the court, which can adversely affect other aspects of the divorce case, such as child support or child custody

If a lawyer knows the spouse is hiding assets, they can also be sanctioned for violating ethical rules.

How To Find Hidden Assets

Hidden assets undermine a fair legal process. Fortunately, there may be ways that you, with the help of your legal team, can find hidden assets, such as:

  • Reviewing financial statements and tax returns
  • Requesting statements for accounts, you are an owner on
  • Requesting information from your spouse’s employer regarding their income and retirement accounts
  • Conducting discovery requests to obtain additional documentation to review for these purposes
  • Working with forensic experts to uncover hidden assets
  • Researching corporate filings and other public records
  • Deposing friends, families, employers, and others to find out if they received any hidden assets 
  • Hiring expert appraisers to provide accurate evaluations of property

Experienced family law attorneys know the information necessary to uncover hidden assets and the strategies that can help them obtain it.

Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help

If you are concerned about hidden assets during your divorce, an experienced divorce lawyer can help. They can discuss your case during a confidential consultation. Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule an appointment. to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Bergen County Law Office
1 University Plaza Dr #400,
Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States