As in other states, in Pennsylvania most types of assets and debts that either spouse acquired while married automatically became shared marital property. In addition to physical assets, such as your house, vehicles and valuable personal items, marital property can include cash assets, bank and investment accounts and insurance policies.
If you have decided to divorce, these marital assets will be subject to equitable division by the court. Unfortunately, your spouse may try to “gain the upper hand” by trying to hide valuable property from court scrutiny and a fair division under the law.
Property distribution and the discovery process
The discovery process is an essential part of divorce in which you and your spouse must both present a complete and honest account of all your assets and income, both marital and separate. This allows the court to get the full financial picture it needs to divide property equitably and ensure your children receive adequate support.
Common tactics for hiding assets from the court
There are many ways that your spouse may try to conceal assets during the divorce process, including:
- Making large cash purchases
- Transferring assets to a third party
- Retaining assets in a business
- Opening accounts in children’s names
- Keeping money or other assets in a safety deposit box
Your future ex may also attempt to minimize court-ordered division of property by understating their income or overstating expenses related to housing, childcare, travel or other costs of living.
Whether or not you believe your spouse is capable of hiding assets, it is important to take the discovery process seriously during your divorce. In addition to requesting complete financial documentation, you may want to hire a forensic accountant who can track down items that may have been intentionally or unintentionally concealed.