What constitutes financial fraud in a divorce?

If your Maryland marriage appears to be breaking up, your life undoubtedly is difficult, emotional and stressful right now. You worry about your kids if you file for divorce. You worry about yourself. You may even have the added burden of worrying about whether or not your spouse is hiding assets from you so that (s)he will have the advantage in your upcoming property settlement negotiations

Hiding assets and financial fraud are one and the same. It means that your spouse is deliberately attempting to do something illegal in order to deprive you of what is rightfully yours, i.e., your share of the marital assets.

Financial fraud red flags

Be on the lookout for the following red flags that could indicate that your spouse may indeed be attempting to hide assets from you:

  • Changing habitual behavior
  • Receiving mail from unidentified and/or new people
  • No longer receiving mail at home, indicating that (s)he rerouted it to his/her office or other location
  • Getting odd phone calls during which (s)he speaks cryptically, noncommittally or secretively
  • No longer confiding in you

Common hiding places

Unfortunately, there are a number of hiding places available to your spouse for asset-hiding attempts, including the following:

  • Secret safe deposit box(es)
  • Online brokerage or other financial accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Unfunded trusts
  • Untaken bonuses, deferred compensation, commissions, etc.

Common accomplices

Many spouses seek cooperation in their asset-hiding schemes from their family members, close friends or business associates. It may not be overly difficult for your spouse to convince such people that you are out to take him/her for everything (s)he owns, and therefore (s)he is justified in taking what (s)he can get now while (s)he still has the opportunity to do so. If you discover a secret paramour, add this person to your list of possible accomplices. Your spouse could deposit money into these people’s bank accounts, title property in their names, give them loans, etc., all at your expense.

If you and your spouse are a high-asset couple and you truly suspect financial fraud, you may want to consider hiring a forensic accountant experienced in finding and tracking hidden assets to work with your legal team.

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