When high-asset couples divorce, it can be difficult to untangle whose property is whose. In Wisconsin, there isn’t as much to separate as in other states.
Wisconsin is a community property state, which means everything is subject to equal division. The main exceptions include any property that was obtained:
- Before the marriage
- After a legal separation
- As an inheritance or gift, provided it stays separate and not in a joint account or there is a record of the gift
Because Wisconsin puts all property in a communal pile and splits it down the middle, some people may try to hide assets so they don’t have to split them with their spouse. They employ many tricks and keep secrets to avoid suspicion.
This is wrong, as it doesn't allow both spouses to protect their financial futures after the marriage ends. But how can a divorcing person know their spouse is trying to keep assets from them that should be divided legally?
Here are a few common financial signs that a spouse is trying to hide assets:
- Opening multiple personal or business bank accounts
- Setting up bank accounts in the name of a child or friend
- Maintaining or taking over control of any shared bank accounts, banking information or passwords
- Deleting financial accounting programs
- Claiming a computer containing financial records has “crashed,” removing the hard drive and “failing” to retrieve the data
- Transferring assets to family and friends (which are reversed post-divorce)
- Alleging a dramatic decrease in marital or business assets and investments
Not always about money
However, some of the signs a spouse is hiding assets are a little sneakier. They don’t immediately look suspicious but in truth, they are part of a plan to move communal property so it can't be split. They include:
- Purchasing unusually expensive items that can be resold later
- Acquiring multiple cell phones and new numbers
- Withdrawing cash from debit cards
- Paying debt to family in friends, to be paid back after the divorce
- Suffering a “decrease” in income but making no change to expenses
- Postponing commissions, bonuses or promotions
- Complaining about money to avoid suspicion, or being overly vague or secretive about money
- Pressuring a spouse to sign legal documents quickly without proper review
Hiding assets causes trouble
Lying about assets during divorce proceedings is illegal – the couple agreed to share that property equally at the start of the marriage, and each spouse is entitled to half at the marriage’s end.
If there is any reason to suspect a spouse is trying to hide assets, look for these clues to find an answer. A divorce attorney can help establish proof to ensure the community property is all revealed and divided as it should be.