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Following the maze: uncovering hidden marital assets

You know your spouse is a notably successful business person, owning several companies. Additionally, he or she (let's just say he for purposes of this blog post) has bragged over the years about his investment acumen.

So where is all that wealth now, as you're looking for it in the divorce process? Your marriage has failed and you are entitled to an equitable share of its marital assets, but suddenly what you thought was there, well, isn't.

Well, maybe it is. It's just possible -- likely, in fact, if your impending ex is now claiming penury despite your marriage having always been marked by obvious wealth -- that much of the marital wealth is now disguised or otherwise hidden in an attempt to short you in a final property distribution.

That scenario does play out in some divorces. A commentator in a recent article on hidden marital assets and strategies to uncover them notes that it is especially apt to occur where a wealthy individual "feels trapped in a crumbling relationship, and is angry and resentful."

What are some signs that unlawful asset shielding is going on?

Those will differ in every divorce, but an experienced property division attorney will know where to look for indications that your soon-to-be ex is hiding the ball (or the investment accounts, stock options, bonus, artwork and/or other income producers).

Divorce-linked asset hiding can obviously be a complex and convoluted endeavor. Trusts you don't know about might be shielding wealth. Perhaps "loans" were made to third parties who just happen to be your spouse's relatives or friends. Debt levels are sometimes artificially inflated by spouses seeking to financially cheat their way through a property settlement. Offshore accounts might be holding monies.

A proven divorce attorney with a demonstrated background in asset identification and recovery can help you find the truth. And when necessary, your lawyer can recommend professionals -- such as a forensic account -- who can assist in that process.

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