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Resolving hidden asset issues in a Washington divorce

by | Jan 13, 2023 | Divorce

Washington is a unique state in many ways, including certain laws that govern civil proceedings that most other states do not have. If you wish to legally end your marriage, especially if you’re a parent, you must sign a property division agreement. Divorce laws in this state say that the court should divide all marital property equally between spouses. This is known as “community property guidelines.” 

You can’t split physical structures, such as a house or vehicle, in half. Therefore, the court determines a way to ensure that you and your ex each receive an equal share of the value of the property. In order to make a fair decision, the court needs to know exactly what assets you and your ex own, as well as what debts you share, at the time you file for a divorce. If your ex tries to hide assets, you will have a serious legal problem on your hands. 

What does hiding assets mean in a divorce? 

Divorce laws in this state require full disclosure from both spouses, meaning you must be completely honest in stating the totality of your assets and liabilities. If your ex wants to try to beat the system or give you the short end of the stick, he or she might hide assets, so that they will not be subject to property division proceedings.  

Common ways to hide assets in a divorce include asking a friend or relative to hold money while pretending to pay back a loan, stashing cash into a private bank account or safe deposit box, or overpaying on tax returns or a credit card balance. If your spouse has recently done any of these things, it is definitely cause for concern, especially if he or she has a history of being dishonest.  

A forensics accountant can track down hidden assets 

Certain investigators know how to track down hidden assets in a divorce. For instance, a forensics accountant is skilled at “following the money,” meaning tracking expenditures or movement of money with particular focus toward online transactions. If you think that your ex is being underhanded when it comes to full disclosure in your divorce, you may want to speak to a forensics accountant about the issue.  

What does the court do when a spouse is hiding assets? 

If a Washington family court judge determines that your ex has committed perjury, which is essentially what hiding assets in a divorce amounts to, the judge can rule that your ex is being held in contempt. Under state law, you are entitled to half of all marital property in a divorce. You and your ex are also both equally liable for any debt you incurred during marriage that exists at the time of your divorce.  

You may take immediate action to halt a hidden asset scheme. If you do nothing, your ex might succeed in fooling the court, and you will have no choice but to walk away with less than you are entitled to, according to state property division laws.