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5 ways people try to hide assets during divorce

You tell your spouse you want a divorce. You're 50 years old, but it's time to move on. Your spouse is less than thrilled, though a split was clearly on the horizon for a while.

You both have significant assets. Your spouse owns a company and you have been working in a management position at another company for decades.

While there is an emotional side to the divorce, you quickly start thinking about assets and property division. Below are five ways that people often try to hide assets. Watch out for them to make sure your spouse doesn't try to defraud you of what you deserve.

1. A spending spree.

Your spouse has been talking about taking a vacation for five years and never done it. Now, two days after you break the news, he or she is off on a vacation in Europe, alone, staying in five-star hotels, eating at the best restaurants, and flying to a new country every few days. Clearly, it's just an attempt to blow through as much money as possible before you split it, meaning you're paying for half of that vacation.

2. Made-up expenses.

Your spouse's company has been running with the same general expenses all year. Now, though, there are suddenly a lot more. In fact, the business suddenly appears to be in financial trouble. Be wary of fake expenses designed to make net worth look lower than it really is.

3. Giving away money.

Your spouse never gave away much money before. After you break the divorce news, though, he or she is very happy to give gifts to family members. Maybe it's a loan to a brother for a business venture. Maybe it's paying back a "debt" to a parent that you never heard about before. In some cases, people do this, get divorced, and then simply get the "loans" or "gifts" back from their family members.

4. Using debit cards to pull money out of the bank.

This is a small-scale scheme, but it can reduce your assets significantly if given enough time. Essentially, your spouse just asks for cash back on the debit card with every purchase. These additional costs go unnoticed, and your spouse stashes the extra money away without telling you.

5. Forgetting about accounts.

If you're not all that involved with your spouse's finances, do you really know about all of the accounts? They could include investment portfolios, pension plans, retirement plans, stock options and more. Your spouse may simply "forget" to list these assets, hoping you won't even notice.

If you think your spouse is hiding assets, you absolutely need to know what legal options you have. A lot of the examples above constitute fraud, and there are ways for you to get a fair share even when your spouse tries to keep it from you.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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