Under New Jersey law, all marital assets are subject to equitable division between the spouses in divorce. As part of this process, the spouses must compile a comprehensive list of all of their assets so that they—or the court—may divide the marital assets between them according to equitable principles. However, there are cases in which a spouse may hide assets from the court and from their spouse in an attempt to defraud their spouse of a fair asset division. If you believe that your spouse will try to avoid disclosing all of their assets during your pending divorce, Bergen County property division attorney Brian D. Iton can provide assistance. Through a meticulous investigation, we can help you identify and locate hidden assets that should be included in your divorce proceedings.Identifying and Dividing Assets
To carry out an equitable division of property, in a contested case each spouse must provide the court and the other spouse with a comprehensive accounting of their marital and separate property, debts, and other financial information (income, household expenses, etc.) on a statement called a “Case Information Statement,” or CIS. This information is submitted with a signed affidavit, which means that both spouses swear under oath to the truth of the CIS regarding both its completeness and its accuracy. An unintentional oversight, such as forgetting to list a minor asset or making a mistake as to the assets value, may be corrected. However, willful misrepresentation in the CIS is a serious matter, which will result in penalties if the misrepresentation is discovered.
Unfortunately, although the information contained in the CIS must be supported by tax returns, account statements, and other financial documentation, hidden assets are a common issue, particularly in marriages in which one spouse handles all of the financial matters, or runs a business. . Some ways in which a spouse may hide assets include:
- Asking a boss to postpone raises, bonuses, or commission payments until after a divorce is final;
- Hiding “loose” cash, collected over time, in a private place or in a bank account opened in a different name, such as that of a good friend or family member, but over which the spouse actually retains control;
- Paying off a “debt” to a friend or family member, who will plan to return the money when the divorce is final;
- Investing in portable assets—such as art, jewelry, or wine—and drastically undervaluing them so that the other spouse will not seek to obtain them in the settlement;
- Overpaying taxes, knowing that the overage will be refunded or credited to a future tax year;
- Purchasing bearer bonds, gift cards, or travelers’ checks and hiding them;
- Deferring profitable contracts until after the divorce so that the business is undervalued or not reporting cash sales; or
- Creating “phantom” employees, consultants, vendors, and expenses to lower a company’s profitability.
These are just some of the methods that may be employed by spouses who are attempting to benefit from hiding marital assets. While some of the above methods—such as asking for the deferral of a bonus or raise—may seem merely prudent or clever, they are unlawful. In an appropriate case, fraud investigators and forensic accountants can be retained to find these assets and bring them to the table for proper distribution.Seek Assistance From a Bergen County Attorney Regarding Hidden Assets
If you believe that your spouse may not disclose all of their assets in your pending divorce, you should act proactively to conduct as thorough a search as possible. For assistance in deciding how best to root out hidden marital assets and resolve potential property division issues, contact Bergen County lawyer Brian D. Iton for a free consultation. We can be reached online or toll-free at (844) 431-3380. Brian D. Iton represents people who need a divorce lawyer in Hackensack, Paterson, Jersey City, Newark, and other communities in and around Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, and Essex Counties.