As in other states, in Florida, nearly all assets and debts that either spouse acquires during the marriage become shared marital assets. Marital assets may include physical property like real estate, vehicles and personal items as well as financial assets like cash, bank accounts, insurance policies and investments.
If you and your spouse are facing divorce, the marital assets you share may be subject to equitable distribution by the court. Unfortunately, your spouse may try to avoid a fair court-ordered division of property by hiding assets from legal scrutiny.
Asset division and the discovery process
For the court to make a fair distribution of property, you and your spouse must present a full and honest account of both marital property and separate property. This occurs during the discovery process when you, your spouse and your respective attorneys exchange financial documentation and answer questions about both your income and your assets.
Ways spouses attempt to conceal assets
Your spouse may try to hide, spend down or even destroy property before or during the divorce process to avoid a fair division. Common examples of asset concealment include:
- Retaining assets in a business
- Making large cash purchases
- Keeping money in a safety deposit box
- Transferring assets to a third party
- Claiming an asset does not exist
- Opening an account in a child’s name
- Overstating the cost of living, childcare, travel or other expenses
Protection against potential concealment
If you suspect your future ex-spouse may be trying to shield assets during your divorce, it is important to be thorough during the discovery process.
In addition to requesting documents like tax returns, bank statements and pay stubs, a deposition, or testimony under oath, may be necessary to ensure both you and the court have the full financial picture.