An Oklahoma divorce case will involve property division proceedings, and this phase of the dissolution process can be incredibly difficult for some people. The formal divorce requires the legal transfer of ownership rights over a couple’s marital assets through equitable distribution in Oklahoma. This process requires each of the divorcing spouses to provide complete, accurate, and honest financial disclosures. Unfortunately, some divorcing spouses attempt to hide assets illegally, even when they opt for alternative dispute resolution instead of divorce litigation.
It’s essential to know the different ways an individual may attempt to hide their assets to prevent their division in Oklahoma equitable distribution proceedings. Consult an experienced divorce attorney if you have any reason to believe your spouse has engaged in fraud, misrepresentation, or financial deception of any kind as your divorce case unfolds for the best chance of holding them accountable. Consider the following common examples of how some people attempt to hide their assets in property division proceedings and refer to your attorney if you have evidence of any such activity.
“Dissipation” refers to the intentional spending of marital assets to deprive the other spouse of access to those assets in property division proceedings. A few common examples of dissipation include:
- Maxing out the credit limit on a jointly owned credit card.
- Spending marital assets on an extramarital affair.
- Excessive spending on lavish purchases before filing for divorce.
It’s common for a couple heading for divorce to know that dissolution is in their near future, and any reckless spending at this stage of a devolving marriage is a likely indication of dissipation. If you believe your spouse has engaged in any dissipation, it is vital to consult your divorce attorney to determine the best possible response to the situation.
One of the most straightforward ways a divorcing spouse may attempt illegal hiding of assets is by making cash withdrawals from a shared bank account. A jointly held bank account qualifies as marital property in an Oklahoma divorce, so an individual intent on padding their property division may make withdrawals from the shared account to hide the physical cash obtained. People who attempt this usually do so by making multiple small withdrawals over time. It’s vital to keep a close eye on your bank account activity and investigate cash withdrawals your spouse makes as your divorce unfolds. They must disclose cash on hand as part of their financial disclosure statement.
Overpaying Credit Cards
Another commonly used method for hiding assets from divorce proceedings is the overpayment of credit cards. When an individual holds a credit card and pays over the maximum credit balance, the remainder will sit on their credit card for some time, and then the credit card company will typically reimburse the cardholder by sending them a check for the difference. For example, if an individual has a credit card with a $50,000 credit limit and overpays it to $65,000, the credit card company would eventually send them a check for $15,000, and their account would reflect a full credit limit.
It’s a common misconception that only someone self-employed can potentially hide their income from their spouse, but it’s just as possible for someone who receives a W2 form each year. They can accomplish this by simply requesting their employer hold back pay raises or bonuses until their divorce concludes. Some individuals may take additional steps, such as arranging a second direct deposit account to split their paychecks effectively, hoping their spouse doesn’t discover the second account.
How to Address Hidden Assets in Divorce
While some divorcing spouses attempt to hide assets simply out of a desire for personal gain and others do so out of spite, the reality is that attempting to hide your assets in divorce proceedings is highly illegal and likely to lead to criminal prosecution. Additionally, if you attempt to hide your assets in any way during divorce, the court will seek accountability for this behavior and likely reduce the amount you ultimately receive through property distribution.
If you believe your spouse has hidden assets, or if you have evidence that your spouse has engaged in dissipation of any kind, it’s vital to consult your divorce attorney as soon as possible to determine the best available resolution to the situation. An experienced attorney may arrange for an expert witness like a forensic accountant to investigate the situation and perform deep research on your shared finances to prove dissipation or find hidden assets. If you have any concerns about the credibility of your spouse’s financial disclosure in divorce, consult your Oklahoma divorce attorney immediately to determine your best available options for handling the situation.