10 Easy Ways to Hide Assets From Your Spouse

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Financial infidelity and lies are all too common in marriages. One in three people admitted to financial infidelity against their partner, according to a January poll for the National Endowment for Financial Education. And that's just the ones who admitted it. So can you imagine the deception that can occur during a divorce?

Unfortunately, I don't have to imagine. As a divorce financial planner who often works with the "out spouse" -- the term for the partner in a marriage who was never plugged in to the finances, managed the cash flow, paid the bills or had relationships with the CPA, financial adviser or attorney. I've seen financial deception firsthand as the more savvy and informed "in spouse" tries to cover up cash, hide investments and fabricate expenses and debts.

If you are considering a divorce or in the middle of one -- especially if you are the out spouse -- you need to look out for financial deception because it can dramatically affect the assets you obtain and the marital and child support you receive. Although failing to fully and truthfully disclose all assets and liabilities is a crime, don't count on that to deter your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

The best way to catch a criminal is to think like a criminal. So, to help you get into the mind of a soon-to-be ex with their mind on taking you to the cleaners, here are 10 ways I could hide assets and income from my spouse in a divorce:

1. Transfer assets to a separate account. This is simple and common. Here I would take money from our joint bank and brokerage accounts and transfer them to an account only in my name. Fraudulent? Yes. Effective? Absolutely.

2. Transfer assets to a friend. In a joint bank or brokerage account, both parties have full control over the assets. I could systematically transfer cash and/or investments to a buddy's account, and then once the divorce is finalized, he or she could transfer it back to an account in only my name. The advantage in transferring the assets to a friend is that when I am legally obligated to report marital assets, these transferred assets are not technically part of our marital property.

3. Overpay the Internal Revenue Service. With a little planning, this is a terrific way to shield assets; and if caught, it's easy to play the "aw shucks, I totally forgot about this" card. If I knew I was going to file for divorce next year, I could instruct the IRS to use this year's refund for next year's tax. Once the divorce is final, I'd have a fat overpayment with the IRS that I could use against future tax.

4. Take cash withdrawals on debit cards. This one starts with "Honey, I'm going to the store" and ends with "Yes, I would" when asked if I want cash back. Although I probably won't get rich, given enough time I could amass a decent stockpile of cash by taking $60 or $80 every time I am at the grocery. The beauty is that the cash goes under the radar because the total charge shows as groceries.

5. Turn down promotions and raises. If I am friendly with the boss, I would tell him or of my forthcoming divorce and ask that they delay any promotions and set any raises/bonuses aside until after it was finalized.

6. Accrue commissions. If I closed a big deal and was anticipating a large commission payment, I would let my employer know that I wanted to delay receipt for ... tax purposes.

7. Forget about employer retirement accounts or stock options. Memory is the first thing to go with age. How could I be blamed for forgetting about a defined benefit plan, ESOP or stock options I own through my employer? I mean, they hardly ever send statements.

The above tactics are child's play compared to strategies available when you own your own business.

8. Not invoice clients. It wouldn't be difficult to delay invoicing clients until after the divorce. Although accounts receivables would be accrued assets, this is easier to hide than cold hard cash.

9. Create fake expenses. "Yes dear, I'd love to give you more money but my business is struggling ..." thanks to the fact that I've created fake expenses, pre-paid vendors, added my cousins to payroll and started paying friends for their "consulting" expertise.

10. Go on a shopping spree. Have you seen the new $100,000 piece of art in my office? Well you would. I'd buy all kinds of personal items and charge exotic vacations to my company, which would quickly soak up any profit that could be divided in the divorce.

I need a shower after dreaming up this list. People hiding assets in a divorce is a real and pervasive problem, but those who do it can only get away with it if their spouse stays in the dark. So if you are the out spouse, it's time to get more plugged into your finances. If you are going through a divorce, don't accept your soon-to-be ex's financial disclosures at face value. Do some digging, and get your attorney and divorce financial adviser involved. If there are significant assets or a company, hire a forensic accountant.

One last thing: If you are disgusted by my criminal ideas and worried for my spouse, don't be. She's a certified fraud examiner. If I surreptitiously tossed a coin in a fountain, she'd discover it before it hit the water.

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April 04 2015 at 5:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Screw the haters, if then soon to be ex has done nothing to help your business and thrown you to the Wolves, she deserves Less than Zero. I am close to broke and my business is a total loss due to the Economy. FYI -I sell items that are not a necessity for the average person. I am slowly selling off the non profitable items as fast as I can. Still, soon to be ex Wife deserves nothing as she has not helped physically nor financially. If I had assets to hide, I would. If it were not possible to hide them, I would simply burn it.

March 25 2015 at 2:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Please. A good attorney can see through these tricks with his eyes closed. I've been doing divorces for 15 years. I could counter every single "tip" he has here. It's called DISCOVERY, sir...you know, subpoenas, request for production of documents, interrogatories, depositions, request for admissions, etc.

March 24 2015 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow...if you're going to work that hard to hide money during a divorce...Why not work that hard on your marriage and maybe you can avoid the divorce all together and not have to worry about hiding any money or worse yet, giving it to your Divorce Lawyers....

March 24 2015 at 8:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kids are difficult to hide? Just seel them into the sex trade. This is keeping with american values

March 24 2015 at 8:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Thanks, Robert for the article about how to cheat your spouse. People like you are crass little profit maximizers with no values other than Mafia family values.

March 24 2015 at 7:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to weilunion's comment

He didn't write it to give people tips on how to cheat their spouses out of money; if you read the article, you'd see that he's talking to the spouses who aren't the ones handling the couple's finances. Listing all these possibilities is showing them where to look. The crooked spouses already know all these tricks.

March 24 2015 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kids are difficult to hide

March 24 2015 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No. 6 is absolutely wrong. It's when the money is earned that matters, not when it is actually paid to you. If you're a real estate agent and sell a house, the day you close the sale is the day that your fee is due, even if it isn't paid out that day. Delaying an already due payment does not alter when that payment became due, and if you are still married on the day it became due it's community property. Actually, if you are married when working on a sale that eventually closes, even if you legally separate on the day of closing, your spouse would be entitled to up to half of the income from that eventual sale if any of the work was done during the marriage. The court would likely assign a percentage to the spouse, i.e., if you were married for half of the time leading up to that sale, your spouse would be entitled to half of that half, or one quarter of the final sale.

March 24 2015 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply