I Think my Spouse is Hiding Assets Before The Divorce! What Can I do? (Pt 1)

Divorce is a very stressful period; we understand that. In the time leading up to the divorce, many couples struggle with anger, resentment, sadness, and frustration. So it can be natural to want to cut your soon-to-be-ex out of their portion of your finances, especially if those assets were yours before you got married. Or you don’t feel like they did anything to earn their portion of that money. Nothing is more frustrating than having to split something with a person you don’t love anymore, simply because the law says they’re allowed to take half of it. But remember: hiding assets before a divorce is a very big no-no in Michigan!

A puzzle of one hundred dollar bill with several pieces missing.

Your angry spouse might feel it’s unfair to split assets with you!

That’s why so many people feel tempted to stash a little something away before the divorce is final. Especially if they’re angry with you and want to get back at you by reducing what you get to keep after the divorce, or if they feel they worked hard to earn that money and shouldn’t have to share it at all. While we completely understand the frustration that can lead to this sentiment, the reality is it’s very illegal. As in, they could get into a lot of trouble with the court! (Seriously, we can’t stress this enough!)

Michigan law says each spouse gets a portion of the marital estate

Michigan is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that a court in Michigan aims to divide a divorcing couple’s assets as fairly as possible. Each spouse is legally entitled to a portion of their combined assets, but not necessarily half. So how are assets divided? Well, the court usually tries to look at a variety of factors when dividing assets, including how long the marriage lasted, and what each spouse contributed over that time together. In fact, there’s a list of at least nine factors that family court judges review before making a decision about how assets will be divided in a Michigan divorce case. (And hiding assets can result in an angry judge and some very undesirable outcomes – like losing it all!)

Disclosing ALL the assets is one of the first steps in the divorce process

However, at the beginning of a divorce, attorneys always go through what’s called “the discovery process.” This is when a couple gathers information about their combined and separate assets. This includes all relevant financial information like bank statements, account balances, 401K information, retirement plans, trusts, and mutual funds. This, along with info about their other assets (like any properties and vehicles you own) all gets used to provide a complete picture of your financial worth, both as a couple and as individuals. But what do you do if your spouse is stashing cash and trying to cut you out of what you have a legal right to?

Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to assets.

Join us next time for a little more info on why disclosing all your assets is always the best policy, and what you can do if your ex is hiding assets during the discovery process. The fact is, it never pays to lie about your assets. And if your husband or wife is trying to dip into what you’re entitled to, there are ways you can protect yourself. If you have questions about how your assets would be divided in the event of a divorce, or would like to protect your future assets with a prenuptial agreement, contact us today at 517 886 1000. One of our experienced family law attorneys is standing by to talk to you today.