If Your Spouse Owns a Business, He or She May Attempt to Conceal Assets During Divorce. Here's What to Know.

Hiding assets during a divorce is both unethical and illegal, but it happens all the time.

Oregon is an equitable distribution state, and even if your actions triggered the divorce proceedings, fault is not taken into account when dividing marital property. Your spouse may perceive this as unfair, or just be greedy. Either way, they can try to use a business to conceal assets.

Here are some examples of common tactics:

  • Storing money in an office safe deposit box. If you have reason to believe that your husband or wife is hiding cash assets but a search of the home has turned up nothing, they may be concealing the money at their place of business.
  • Purchasing expensive items that can be undervalued. If your spouse purchased new office furniture, how much did he or she really pay for it? That $200 antique desk may really be worth $2,000.
  • Overpaying the IRS or creditors: Overpayments on business taxes and expenses can be refunded after the divorce has been finalized.
  • Under-reporting income on financial statements. If your spouse doesn’t report the business income, it can’t be included in a financial analysis.
  • Deferring lucrative business agreements and deals. This way, the new source of income won’t be “on the books” when assets are being inventoried.
  • Creating fake debt. Your husband or wife can conspire with their family members and friends to create and “pay” bogus business expenses. After the divorce goes through, he or she will get all the money back.
  • Having a bogus payroll. Your spouse may cut paychecks to a fake employee, and then void the checks once the coast is clear.

Locating concealed items or even collecting the evidence needed to prove their existence will present some difficulties, but the process of formal legal discovery can help. Your Oregon divorce attorney can arrange to take the depositions of your spouse’s business partners, suppliers, payroll administrator, and anyone else in a position to be aware of his or her business assets. If they do not provide truthful answers, they can be charged with perjury.

You may also secure the services of a forensic accountant with your attorney’s help: they have the training and professional insight needed to uncover a lot of concealed property. Please contact us today if you’d like to learn more!