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Wealthier spouse may try to hide value of assets

So you've made the decision to divorce and the fear of the unknown is starting to settle in. Don't worry - you're not alone. Many people from New Orleans have found themselves at the beginning, middle and end of their divorces, still uncertain about what is yet to come. Some of these unknowns may involve your social life and who will remain once the dust from the divorce settles. Others include the personal changes you will go through. Spouses involved in a marital split often wonder how they will change in the subsequent years. Perhaps the scariest source of uncertainty, though, is the financial changes that divorce usually brings, especially when the dissolution is a complex asset divorce.

These divorces often involve spouses with some value of wealth, meaning that each may have a lot to lose. In some cases, however, the wealth is one-sided, and one spouse stands to lose quite a bit to the other if the divorce is finalized. In these cases, the wealthier spouse may own a business or a large number of properties in various geographical locations. In order to get an even split during the property division process, the property values for each spouse must be determined. Businesses and properties, along with many other assets, can be abused during this phase of the divorce. If the wealthy spouse can hide the wealth or blur the value somehow, she or he may lose less in the divorce settlement. This is when relevant professional expertise can be invaluable.

A thorough examination of the wealthier spouse's finances is important during this process as it can lead to hidden assets or underestimated valuations. For the less-wealthy spouse, this may mean a more financially stable future. It may also mean the calming of some of the fears that often come with divorce, especially those that concern the lifestyle changes that may depend directly on the amount of money you have.

Source:  CBS Money Watch, "Divorce financial planner: 3 common fears" Robert Pagliarini, Aug. 23, 2013

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