Divorce And Concealed Assets: What You Should Know
When spouses file for divorce in South Florida, the divorce process that follows has many components and can be quite complex. Even in divorce cases where there are no minor children from the marriage, the court will need to classify marital and separate property, and will need to distribute that property between the spouses according to equitable distribution. In order for the court to appropriately classify and distribute property, all assets and debts must be disclosed. In some cases, however, one of the spouses might attempt to hide or conceal one or more assets in order to avoid having that property classified, or might attempt to have the asset valued at an amount significantly lower than its worth.
If you have concerns about concealed assets in your divorce case, you should get in touch with a dedicated West Palm Beach divorce attorney as soon as possible. In the meantime, the following are some important things to know about hidden property and Florida divorces.
All Property Must Be Disclosed for Equitable Distribution
Florida is an equitable distribution state in divorce cases, which means that Florida law requires all property be classified as marital or separate property, and all marital property must be divided (separate property is not divided). Marital property is not divided equally between the parties, but rather is divided equitably, or in a manner that is fair based on the circumstances of both parties and their marriage. In order for the court to equitably divide marital property, both spouses must disclose all assets and debts they own, and the court must properly classify the property.
Sometimes a spouse will not disclose an asset in an attempt to conceal or hide it. For example, a spouse might try to hide a valuable painting, or certain investments, by “gifting” an asset to a friend or failing to disclose certain types of income. If all property is not disclosed and classified, a property division will not be equitable.
Locating Hidden, Concealed, and Improperly Valued Assets
If you have concerns about your spouse hiding or concealing assets, or attempting to assert a significantly lower value for a marital asset so that he or she can keep it without it affecting the distribution of other assets in a significant way, you need help from a Florida divorce attorney. There are many steps you can take to locate hidden or concealed property or value:
- Gather all purchase receipts or invoices that show the date of purchase of the property;
- Obtain copies of all investments and accounts;
- Collect income documentation, including tax returns, W-2s, and 1099s;
- Hire your own appraiser to appraise an asset that you believe your spouse may have had undervalued; and/or
- Hire a forensic accountant who can locate hidden or concealed assets.
Contact a West Palm Beach Family Lawyer Today
Do you have questions about how equitable distribution works in a Florida divorce, or do you need assistance locating concealed assets so that they can be property classified and divided? An experienced West Palm Beach divorce attorney can speak with you today about your circumstances. Contact William Wallshein, P.A. to learn more about the divorce services our firm provides to clients in South Florida.