Financially secure couples in Michigan facing divorce have to consider a variety of unique concerns. Anyone going through a divorce will need to take careful steps to protect themselves and their interests, but those with more significant assets will have much more to lose if they aren't careful about how they approach the situation.
Simple mistakes could have lasting financial consequences that affect your future for years or even decades to come. One of the potential issues you may have to deal with is the risk of hidden assets.
What is a hidden asset?
As the name implies, hidden assets are financial or physical possessions your spouse doesn't disclose or share with you during the marriage or in the process of divorce. Hidden assets can take a variety of forms.
Sometimes, hidden assets involve bank accounts or a stash of cash that one spouse doesn't know about. Other times, a spouse could acquire or purchase items with marital income that they hide or intend to use for their sole benefit.
If your spouse has a business, the business can be an excellent place to hide assets. They could purchase valuable items to use for the business with marital assets that may have no value whatsoever to the spouse not involved with the company.
Why do hidden assets matter?
When a spouse hides assets, they typically do so because they don't want to share them with their ex. The problem is that doing so is not only unfair to the spouse who doesn't receive an equal share of the marital assets, but it is also a violation of Michigan state laws.
If the courts catch one spouse attempting to hide assets from the court or their ex, that can absolutely impact the outcome of the asset division process. The courts may choose to penalize the spouse or, at the very least, split the hidden assets with the other spouse.
Even assets acquired in the name of only one spouse are often subject to division in Michigan, provided they were earned or purchased during the marriage. Finding hidden assets is the only way to ensure a fair outcome in a contentious, high-asset Michigan divorce.
How do you find hidden assets?
The whole point of hidden assets is to prevent a spouse from accessing them. As such, they are usually not easy to find. However, divorce attorneys and specialized accountants have plenty of experience in helping people track down assets hidden by their spouses.
If you have any reason to think that your spouse could hide assets, you want to work with a financial expert or an attorney familiar with the risks involved in a high-asset Michigan divorce. One of the first steps that you can take is documenting what possessions you and your ex share. Next, access financial records that can prove discrepancies to indicate a siphoning of funds or secret accounts.
If you worry about hidden assets, chances are good that there are other concerns that could impact your divorce proceedings. The sooner you secure experienced legal representation, the better your chances of a positive outcome.