Hidden assets can unfairly skew the outcome of Virginia divorces

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2023 | Divorce

It is common for those who are facing divorce to experience intense emotions. Even those who mutually agree that divorce would be the best option for their family can still become depressed and angry during the divorce process. Powerful negative emotions can provoke irrational and unethical behavior that would typically seem contrary to someone’s personality or sense of morals. For example, someone who has historically been generous with their loved one might try to hide assets from the courts in a bid to obtain more than their fair share of the marital estate.

Unfortunately for those in high-asset marriages where one or spouse or possibly both earn competitive wages, the higher standard of living for the household also translates to more motivation to hide assets.

It’s hard to be fair without seeing the big picture

In a Virginia divorce, equitable distribution is the standard. Couples can settle on their own, or a judge will use state statutes to evaluate their situation and their inventory of assets to decide what would be fair and equitable regarding the division of their property and financial obligations.

A spouse negotiating a settlement cannot demand a fair outcome if they are unaware of several valuable assets. Hidden bank accounts, physical property and other assets may not be part of the inventory provided during the divorce but could still be part of the marital estate. People who don’t find those hidden assets may accept unfair settlements or may be bound by a property division order that does not fairly reflect the couple’s circumstances.

There are multiple ways to reduce the chance of falling victim to a spouse’s attempt to unfairly hide assets to keep them out of the pool of marital property. Those who obtain financial records from their marriage and go over them carefully may spot discrepancies that alert them to hidden assets. Others may need to have a lawyer review the paperwork or may even need to bring in a forensic accountant.

In scenarios where people locate hidden assets and inform the courts of the matter, it is sometimes possible to secure a larger portion of the marital estate because of the attempt to hide property and keep it out of the pool of marital assets. Those in higher-asset marriages have more valuable property to fight over and also have more diverse holdings, which can make it easier to overlook assets or misunderstand their value.

Carefully looking over records for signs of hidden assets may help those who are preparing for a Virginia divorce to minimize the risk of misconduct on the part of their spouse on fairly affecting their economic stability moving forward. Seeking legal guidance is often a good place to start.