A property settlement in a divorce case contemplates all of the marital property of the couple being available for distribution. This typically means all of the bank accounts, real property and any source of income.
Sometimes, in some contentious divorces here in Missouri or in other states, one party may attempt to hide assets, in an effort to prevent their being divided in the property division. This typically happens when one party owns a business or has a professional practice, such as real estate sales, a medical or dental practice or law practice.
This spouse may be able to structure the flow of revenue from the business into hidden bank accounts, offshore investments or into physical assets such as gold which may be moved to a location where the other spouse would be unable to discover it.
Such schemes may be simple or complex, but they all tend to be illegal. A recent case involved a doctor, who at one point, drove 7,000 miles from Alaska to deposit money in a bank in Panama. After the millions of dollars were discovered, he claimed they were unavailable, and could not be included in the divorce.
Federal prosecutors, however, seized the funds in a civil forfeiture case and the doctor has now been sentenced to four years in federal prison for tax evasion and wire fraud, in addition to state charges of perjury.
If your spouse has control of a business or lucrative professional practice, you should plan on having all of the finances of the entity carefully examined by a financial professional to ensure that the revenue from the business matches the expenses and profits.
Source: adn.com, “Anchorage surgeon gets 4 years for hiding millions from divorce court,” Jerzy Shedlock, April 4, 2016