What Are Hidden Assets in a Divorce?

Getting divorced in the Charleston area involves the equitable distribution of marital property. To be clear, in a South Carolina divorce, the court will need to identify all assets and debts owned by both spouses and then will need to determine whether those assets and debts should be classified as marital or separate property. Only marital property will be subject to equitable distribution, while spouses can keep their separate property. In order for a court to be able to divide all marital assets and debts accurately and equitably, it needs to know about all of them. Accordingly, in a South Carolina divorce, each spouse is required to submit a financial declaration to the court. The parties must be honest and must provide accurate information about all known assets and debts, including those that they believe to be marital property and those that they believe to be separate property. Yet sometimes, spouses might try to hide assets so that they will not be divided in the divorce.

Learning About Hidden or Concealed Assets

When are assets hidden or concealed in a divorce case? There are a number of different ways that a spouse can try to conceal assets either so that they will not be divided in the process of property division, or so that they can keep certain assets by pretending that they have a much lower value than they actually have. If the spouse hiding property has been in control of the couple’s finances — or largely in control — for much of the marriage, it can be difficult to identify concealed assets.

Examples of How Assets Can Be Concealed

The following are just some examples of ways that a party might try to conceal or hide assets in a divorce case:

  • Completely omit certain assets on the financial declaration;
  • Provide inaccurate information about the date of acquisition of the asset, such as reporting that it was acquired prior to the marriage when it was actually acquired during the marriage;
  • Transfer assets to a friend or family member without informing the other spouse;
  • Use certain assets to invest in the spouse’s own business or in the business or startup of a friend, family member, or colleague;
  • Have an asset intentionally appraised for a value of less than what it is worth;
  • Forge documents concerning the purchase price or purchase date of an asset;
  • Fraudulently alter a recent appraisal of an asset; or
  • Physically hide a tangible asset, such as a piece of artwork, so that the other spouse cannot find it and so that the court cannot distribute it to the other spouse or require that it be sold.

There are also other ways that property can be hidden or concealed that you should discuss with a divorce attorney.

How to Locate Hidden Assets

Gathering financial documents can help you to uncover hidden assets. In more complex cases, it may be necessary to work with your divorce lawyer to identify an experienced forensic accountant who can assist with your case.

Contact a Charleston Divorce Attorney

One of the divorce attorneys in Charleston at our firm can answer any questions you have about concealed assets or property division more broadly. Contact The Peck Law Firm online or call us at 843-631-7117 for more information.

Recommendations For Additional Reading

What You Should Know About Property Division in Your Divorce
Do You Need a Marital Agreement?
Divorce Myths Chapter 2: Splitting up Property