When you and your spouse mutually decided to end your marriage in an Arizona court, you were really hoping to make it as painless a process as possible. That's understandable, especially because, like most good parents, you simply want what is best for your kids and want to settle your differences, then move on in life. If both sides play fair during property division proceedings, you may be able to achieve those goals.
However, if you think your spouse is trying to give you the short end of the stick regarding division of marital assets, then not only might your situation become stressful, you might need outside support to help you address and rectify the problem. You would definitely not be the first Arizona spouse to deal with a hidden asset problem; knowing how to pull the plug on such schemes is a first step in the right direction to protecting your assets.
Arizona is a community property state
There are only nine states, including this one, that continue to operate under community property laws in divorce. That means that the judge overseeing your divorce will split your marital assets 50/50 between you and your ex. Your spouse might be trying to gain the upper hand by stashing cash or doing other things to keep certain assets from being subject to division. The following list includes some of the most common ways spouses hide assets in divorce:
- Joint bank account with another person: Did your spouse recently open a bank account for one of your kids? If money has been leaving your jointly owned account but the new account's balance is growing, it may be a sign of a hidden asset problem.
- Pay stubs do not match incoming earnings: If you follow the money trail on your spouse's pay stub and the earnings amount is higher than the amount coming into your household, it may be because your spouse has asked an employer to defer bonuses or incentive pay.
- Undervaluing artwork or other items: Did your spouse recently go on a shopping spree to purchase luxury items, such as artwork or jewelry? Understating the value of such property is another common means for hiding money in divorce.
- Stashing cash: Your spouse may be hiding assets in plain sight, so to speak. Many people hide assets by stashing cash in strong boxes, closets, attics or other secret spots.
On one hand, you might hesitate to accuse your spouse of trying to keep you from getting what you deserve in your divorce settlement. On the other hand, however, if you say nothing and later learn that your suspicions were correct, you'll have an even greater challenge trying to resolve the problem.
Hiding assets in divorce is illegal
Many spouses gain confidence to speak up regarding suspected hidden asset problems when they learn that this type of behavior is not only sneaky and mean-spirited, it is illegal. The court is not going to look favorably on any spouse who tries to beat the system. By tapping into outside support, you can protect what is rightfully yours and bring any problem situation to the court's immediate attention.