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What if my spouse was hiding assets during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2022 | Property Division

The most challenging aspect of many Pennsylvania divorces is the question of how property will be divided between the parties. While Pennsylvania uses equitable distribution as a baseline and strives to achieve fairness, there can still be disagreements about who will receive what as part of the divorce settlement.

Unfortunately, this difficult situation can get even more complicated when one spouse attempts to conceal assets. In these situations, it is imperative that people know what they can do to ensure there is a fair accounting and distribution.

What does the law say about hidden assets?

Pennsylvania law directly addresses the question of hidden assets in property division. The property must be fully inventoried. This includes a list of what is owned as separate property, marital property or a combination. The value of the property must be provided along with information as to when it was acquired and when the couple separated. A list of liabilities must also be given to the court. The court can take steps if one party is apparently set to leave the court’s jurisdiction and remove property to avoid equitable distribution. It can issue an injunction to prevent this removal.

When there are undisclosed assets, a constructive trust can be formed. This will be done for properties that reach least $1,000 in value. The person who was set to lose access to a portion of the property because it was undisclosed can ask that the trust be created. This trust will benefit the aggrieved spouse, children and other dependents. The listed owner of the assets will be named as the constructive trustee, but the court can name a different trustee if it chooses to do so.

Property must be scrutinized to determine its value and divide it fairly

Although it is easier to navigate a divorce and property division if the sides are upfront with each other and – at a minimum – honest and cordial, that does not always happen. People might try various underhanded tactics or simply make mistakes that make it look like they are engaged in wrongdoing. It is vital to have an accurate analysis of the property and prevent any sleight of hand that could cause exponential problems. Finding hidden assets is not always easy and having caring, professional advice throughout the process can avoid a long and acrimonious case and be useful to reaching a reasonable outcome.

Pennsylvania Bar Association

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