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Divorce: Do you suspect a hidden asset problem?

Any number of issues may have arisen in your marriage to prompt your decision to file for divorce. Perhaps, you feel like it's been a long time coming and that you overlooked many problems through the years. Then again, you might be among many other Pennsylvania spouses who made the decision to divorce after a specific stressful event, such as catching your spouse in an extramarital affair.

No matter what led you to determine that you'd rather move on in life on your own than stay in an unhappy marriage, making the decision to file for divorce sparks a series of other decisions you'll have to make. To achieve a fair and agreeable settlement, you and your spouse must be honest and willing to cooperate, especially when it comes to property division proceedings.

Full disclosure is necessary

Beyond resolving issues such as whether you or your spouse will keep living in the home you shared during marriage or will sell it, you also need to list all of your assets and liabilities. Pennsylvania is an equitable property state, meaning the judge overseeing your case will determine a fair division of all marital property, although the split won't necessarily be 50/50.

If your spouse refuses to fully disclose all the required information regarding bank accounts, real and personal property, etc., you have a right to seek the court's intervention.

Signs that suggest your spouse is hiding assets

Perhaps you recently noticed that there have been withdrawals made from your jointly owned bank account that you were not aware of at the time. Did your spouse overpay the most recent credit card bill? Did he or she recently give a large sum of money to a relative or friend, saying it was a loan or that it was payback for a loan that you didn't know had transpired?

What to do if your spouse is acting suspicious

If something doesn't seem right, you can certainly ask your spouse about it. If your spouse is hiding assets, he or she might get defensive and combative when you inquire about a particular issue. It's important to try to stay calm and remember that you're entitled to a fair division of all marital property in your divorce.

In fact, hiding assets in divorce is illegal. The Pennsylvania family court does not look favorably on a spouse who tries to beat the system. There are several legal steps you can take to protect your rights and financial interests as you settle your divorce and make plans for a new lifestyle.

These are all common ways that spouses attempt to hide assets in divorce. In addition to overpaying a credit card bill, a spouse might do the same thing on tax returns, so it's a good idea to carefully review your most recent tax information. Other issues, such as delaying a bonus from an employer or opening a custodial account for a minor, may also be signs pointing to a hidden asset problem.

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