Hidden assets in a divorce could lead to unfair asset division

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2017 | Firm News |

Most people have heard horror stories about an incredibly unbalanced outcome to divorce proceedings. People often worry, as a result of these urban legends about judicial unfairness, that they could lose everything in a divorce. In reality, that kind of outcome is incredibly rare and is typically grounded in legitimate legal reasons.

In general, the courts in Nebraska recognize that both spouses contribute to the family and household, regardless of income levels. Non-working spouses will typically still receive a fair share of the marital assets during a divorce. Unfortunately, in some cases, that could incentivize one spouse to try to hide assets prior to or during a divorce.

Nebraska courts strive for equitable division of marital assets

Nebraska laws call for the equitable distribution of marital assets. The general idea of this is that the assets and debts acquired during the marriage should be divided fairly between both spouses.

Unlike some other states, the appreciation of separate property is considered marital property if there isn’t a prenuptial agreement on record. That means, for example, that while deposits made into a retirement or investment account before the marriage aren’t subject to division, interest or dividends accrued during the marriage will be.

Assets owned prior to marriage, inheritances and gifts remain the separate property of the individual spouse. All other assets acquired during the marriage typically are subject to getting split between spouses. Hiding assets is one way an unscrupulous spouse may try to influence an unfair outcome to the asset division process.

There are many ways for someone to hide assets in a divorce

When people think of hidden assets, they usually conjure up images of stacks of cash in a secret safe or an offshore bank account that no one but the owner knows about. While hidden savings and investment accounts can be an issue, there are many other ways for your spouse to hide assets prior to your divorce.

Regular cash withdrawals, for example, can be a way to build up a hidden store of funds that should belong to both spouses. Some tricky spouses will take out cash in small amounts each time they pay with a debit card to make it harder to track.

Other times, physical items can hide massive value. Your spouse may have purchased items worth a substantial amount in the hope that the item itself won’t interest you. It’s important to review financial records to determine the purchase price of collectibles and other possessions to help ensure that you’re reporting a fair value for all kinds of assets, even those you have no interest in personally retaining.