White and White Attorneys at Law
White & White Attorney

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When spouses hide assets during or after marriage

Money can be a contentious issue during a marriage. Some spouses seek to avoid the issue by hiding spending or saving from their spouses with separate bank accounts or credit cards. When discovered, the breach of trust can cause a rupture in the relationship that may lead to divorce.

Once a couple decides to divorce, whether or not money was a factor, each spouse has a legal and ethical responsibility to disclose their assets to enable fair decisions about support and property division. Unfortunately, some divorcing spouses intentionally try to hide assets, which impedes the process.

Is it ever acceptable for spouses to hide money during their marriage?

According to the Detroit Free Press, it is sometimes acceptable, and maybe even healthy, for spouses to maintain separate accounts in addition to those shared equally between the two. When both spouses earn their own money, this creates a measure of financial autonomy. If one spouse has a separate bank account, it can sometimes be to the other’s benefit. For example, the first spouse can buy gifts for the other without the second one finding out beforehand.

If spouses keep separate bank accounts or credit cards, they should be private but not secret. In other words, each spouse should be aware of the other’s separate account. Spouses should also exercise financial responsibility in maintaining separate accounts and spending and not do anything to endanger the family finances. Otherwise, it could cause irreparable damage to the relationship.

What does hiding assets during divorce look like?

A fair divorce agreement depends on both spouses being completely open about their respective financial situations. Unfortunately, however, some spouses try to cheat by hiding assets and making it look like they have less than what they really own. According to the Good Men Project, indications that a spouse is hiding assets tend to follow recognizable patterns:

  • Paying debts or transferring assets to family members
  • Making unusually expensive purchases
  • Overpaying creditors
  • Taking control of bank accounts
  • Deleting computer programs about accounting
  • Underreporting or overpaying taxes

A spouse who notices troubling signs such as this has the law on his or her side. A detailed analysis of the financial situation may help uncover the unlawful concealment of assets.

While it may not be healthy, there is no law preventing spouses from hiding money from one another during the marriage. However, it is a completely different story during a divorce.