In a Florida divorce, the spouses in the marriage are required to present each other and the court with a full list of all assets held by either party. The purpose of this is so that the court can ensure that all marital property – meaning all property earned or acquired during the marriage, regardless of which spouse earned it – can be equitably distributed between the spouses in the divorce, whether that division of marital property is achieved through a negotiation or a judge’s decision. Obviously, there is a great temptation for one spouse to keep assets hidden from the other spouse during a divorce to prevent them from being shared with the other spouse, but that practice is both unfair and illegal. By working with an experienced family law attorney, you can work to prevent this from occurring and to take appropriate action when such assets have been hidden. Here are some of the most commonly hidden assets in a Florida divorce.
Cold Hard Cash
Because cash basically all looks the same, does not have a title accompanying it, and can be easily hidden, it is common for one spouse to hide cash from the other in a divorce. This is often accomplished by temporarily placing the cash with a friend, family member, or associate, or by hiding it in an office, second home, or other location. And while one spouse may not have had large piles of cash laying around, that spouse may convert other assets to cash in order to facilitate hiding it.
Jewelry and other Small Valuables
Because jewelry can be quite valuable and yet easy to hide, it can be tempting for one spouse to hide jewelry from the other with another party or in an undisclosed location, and to perhaps claim that the jewelry was lost or given away long ago. Even where one spouse claims to have gifted marital property to a third party, the law will often require that other party to give it back as it was not the spouse’s right to unilaterally give marital property away.
Business Inventory and Other Holdings
When one spouse owns and/or operates a business, that spouse may have the mistaken belief that his or her ownership in the business is not subject to equitable distribution, but that is not the case when the value of those holdings is due at least in part to efforts made during the marriage. That spouse may also attempt to hide assets belonging to the business from the other spouse, using the cover of the business as a shield. Your attorney will help uncover all business holdings to which you are entitled.
Stocks, Bonds, and Other Securities
Although stocks, bonds, and other security holdings should (in most cases, at least) be easier to track and identify than cash or jewelry, an unscrupulous spouse may often take advantage of another spouse who is either unsophisticated in financial holdings or does not handle the family’s finances. One spouse may also claim that any financial investments held in his name only will automatically belong to him in a divorce, but that is incorrect. Again, any holdings acquired during the marriage with income earned during the marriage are marital property belonging to both spouses.
Unpaid or Undistributed Income
Another common trick spouses play is to have their employers or other third parties hold income that they earned during the marriage until the divorce is complete to avoid having that income disclosed in the divorce and thus subject to equitable distribution. As with the other tricks listed above, this is illegal and an experienced family law attorney can take appropriate action to have such assets disclosed and have the court deal with the offending spouse’s misdeeds.
Legal Help in Your Florida Divorce Action
No matter where you are in the divorce process in Florida, from initial consideration to ongoing litigation, The Law Offices of Ira M. Marcus, P.A. in Miami can help. Contact our office today to set up a consultation with a trusted and caring family law attorney.