Many divorces are messy. Under New Jersey law each spouse is required to candidly disclose all property ownership to the other spouse so that an equitable division of assets can be reached. (We call that “equitable distribution”.) In some cases, however, a spouse attempts to hide property from the other in order to prevent the equitable division of assets from taking place. This is usually because the spouse believes that the other spouse does not deserve any part of those assets, or that the other spouse is likely to claim a significant interest in those assets. At Goldstein Law Group, our Middlesex and Monmouth County high-asset divorce lawyers can guide you through these complex matters. We have over 100 combined years of experience in handling high net worth divorces and are equipped to handle difficult cases, including those involving hidden assets.Uncovering Hidden Assets during the Property Division Process
In a New Jersey divorce, a couple’s property must be equitably distributed according to a number of factors. This division is equitable, meaning fair, but is not always a 50/50 split down the middle. Instead, the process of division involves identifying all of the parties’ assets. The equitable distribution of property requires your attorney (and in some cases a specialized expert, such as a forensic accountant whom we may retain on your behalf) to identify or trace all of the assets, determine income sources and liabilities, and develop an equitable division of the marital estate. The process of division becomes more complicated in high net worth divorces, and even more challenging if one or both spouses tries to hide marital assets.
Often, one spouse in a hidden asset case had little involvement in either the running of a closely held business, or the financial matters related to the household itself. That spouse might not understand what assets are in the marital estate, or might not realize their value. That spouse also may not know how to acquire the documents necessary to evaluate whether the other spouse has made a fair and accurate disclosure of assets.
In New Jersey, divorcing spouses owe a duty of financial disclosure to the other spouse – and the court. This means they will need to disclose all financial matters relating to any real property they hold, personal property, furnishings, bank account information, business assets and income, and any other form of property or income. In some cases, a spouse may hide assets in a business entity. This is unethical, and illegal. Our attorneys can use a number of different methods to ferret out hidden assets, including various forms of discovery which may include depositions and subpoenas, review of bank records, brokerage accounts, and sometimes a lifestyle and/or cash flow analysis. We use experts in some cases to analyze and find the discrepancies in tax returns, profit and loss statements, 1099s, and bank records. In many cases, hidden assets become known based on the marital lifestyle itself. In a lifestyle audit, we can examine the marital residence, real estate property or investments, real estate improvements, automobiles or other vehicles, vacations, savings, personal expenses that are run through a business, entertainment, gifts, and personal luxury property such as jewelry or antiques.
In some cases, a spouse hides assets overseas. Some of the issues related to possessing assets that have been hidden overseas involve determining where the assets are located in overseas accounts, investigating overseas assets that may be hidden, properly determining the assets’ full value, and ensuring their fair distribution. We must also consider minimizing the impact of international taxation and creating new titles for the assets, and actually effectuating the distribution itself.Seek Guidance from a Divorce Lawyer in Monmouth County or Middlesex County
If you are concerned about hidden assets in your divorce, you should consult with an attorney who has experience in high-asset divorce cases. At Goldstein Law Group, our family law lawyers are experienced in helping New Jersey residents search for hidden assets and value businesses. We maintain offices in Old Bridge and Brielle and serve clients throughout Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex Counties as well as other counties throughout the state. Please contact us at 732-967-6777 or via our online form to set up a free consultation with a Middlesex or Monmouth County attorney.