One of the most contentious issues in many divorces is how assets and debt acquired during the marriage are split between spouses. Unless there is a prenuptial agreement on record, you have two basic approaches to asset division. One involves a non-contested divorce, where you and your spouse agree to specific terms for asset division prior to filing with the courts. The other involves asking the courts to handle the asset division process for you.
When the courts decide how to divide your assets during a divorce, it can become nearly impossible to accurately predict the outcome. This is due, in part, to the unique nature of each marriage. The courts must consider a variety of factors when determining how to fairly and equitably split up any possessions and debts. If they don't know about certain assets, however, it may be difficult or impossible to obtain a fair division of assets.
People fearing divorce may plan ahead by hiding assets
Regardless of who finally files for divorce, many times both spouses can see it coming before it is made official. If there have been struggles between you and your spouse, he or she may have already started planning for the inevitable. In some cases, that planning could include hiding assets to avoid the courts dividing them. The greater your marital income and total household net worth, the more likely hidden assets become in your divorce.
Hiding assets can look like opening an international banking account that receives a portion of every paycheck or commission. It can also look like small cash withdrawals from a shared account, resulting in a substantial accumulation of liquid capital. Sometimes, it even looks like purchasing valuable items for personal use or as a collection to avoid the other spouse laying claim to those items and the value they represent. Hidden assets may even be items your spouse gives or sells for a very low price to friends, family or coworkers shortly before your divorce.
New York courts can only divide what they know about
In order to ensure that the asset division process is as fair to both parties as possible, the courts need to receive a thorough and accurate asset and debt inventory. Without accurate financial information, the courts will not be able to create a fair and effective solution to your asset division issue.
Ensuring that you have complete and accurate financial records is an important step to divorcing well. You should also take careful inventory of possessions you may not have an interest in that carry a substantial value. Doing so can help ensure that the courts have a clear and thorough idea of what assets and debts resulted from your marriage.