Tips for defending against a spouse hiding assets in a divorce

On behalf of Bebout, Potere, Cox & Bennion, P.C. posted in divorce on Monday, December 12, 2016.

If you are divorcing your spouse on less than amicable terms, you might take heed of today’s post topic: hidden assets.

The story involves a spouse attempting to hide about $400 million from his soon-to-be former spouse. Although not every marital estate may involve assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the spouse’s tactics may seem all too commonplace.

The couple had a vacation home in the Bahamas. After discovering her husband making vacation plans with another woman, the wife decided to take proactive steps toward divorce. She flew down to their vacation home, where she discovered statements from an overseas bank account and documents from corporate entities that she had never heard of, although they were apparently owned by her husband. Most importantly, she came across a statement from their accounting firm, reflecting an estate estimate of $300 million.

These discoveries launched a two-year attempt to crack her husband’s offshore financial secrets. Unfortunately, her husband retaliated, closing their joint checking accounts and attempting to extricate himself from his financial holdings–at least on paper. The wife’s attorney filed papers seeking an asset injunction against the husband. The court proceeding also enabled the attorney to utilize civil discovery tools, like document requests, subpoenas to third parties, and interrogatories. That launched a battle over whether certain documents were privileged. The divorce is apparently still pending.

Our Michigan family law firm has helped many clients obtain favorable property division agreements, sometimes in tense circumstances. If a divorce is not amicable, we recommend consulting with an attorney as soon as possible. Early efforts in obtaining tax returns, bank statements and other documents can draw a clearer picture of the assets and debts that may comprise a marital estate.

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