If you and your spouse are contemplating a Minnesota divorce, issues regarding your children likely occupy the forefront of your thoughts. Second place, however, may be your upcoming property settlement agreement, especially if you and (s)he are a high-asset couple. You may even suspect that your spouse has begun hiding assets from you so as to better his or her financial position.

Unfortunately, spousal asset-hiding, a form of financial fraud, happens on a fairly frequent basis in families that have accumulated a substantial amount of wealth during the marriage.

Financial fraud red flags

If you suspect your spouse of hiding assets from you, watch for one or more of the following red flags that signal the possibility of such financial fraud:

  • Your spouse stops confiding in you.
  • (S)he changes many of his or her habitual behaviors.
  • (S)he begins receiving snail mail from people or companies with which you are unfamiliar.
  • Alternatively, his or her snail mail stops coming to your home since (s)he has redirected it to his or her office or some other address.
  • (S)he frequently receives mysterious phone calls during which (s)he says little and speaks cryptically when (s)he does speak.
  • You discover the existence of a secret paramour.

Financial fraud accomplices

Few marital asset hiders have the ability to accomplish their goals without significant help from others. Potential accomplices include their family or extended family members, their business associates, their close social friends and, of course, any secret paramour.

Frequent asset hiding places

In today’s technological age of easy online accessibility, your spouse has even more asset hiding places available than like-minded spouses in the past. These places can include one or more of the following:

  • Online banking, brokerage and/or insurance accounts
  • Cash loans or gifts made or given to accomplices
  • Deposits into the bank or other accounts of accomplices
  • New bank accounts and/or safe deposit boxes of which you know nothing
  • Employee compensation accounts such as those holding deferred bonuses, as yet untaken commissions or other monies and/or stock options

If you become convinced that your spouse is committing financial fraud and attempting to hide assets from you, discuss this possibility with your attorney at your first opportunity. You and (s)he may wish to consider adding a forensic accountant to your legal team who has the expertise and experience to find and track such hidden assets.