Unveiling Hidden Assets in Divorce: Strategies and Safeguards

Sep 19, 2023 | , , , , | News

Divorce is never easy, and when it comes to matters of finance, things can get even more complex, or sometimes messy.

In cases where couples are married in community of property or follow the accrual system, one of the most challenging hurdles divorce attorneys and their clients face is the concealment of assets by a spouse.

Divorce

This deceitful practice often unfolds during the divorce process or, sometimes, in the months even years leading up to the separation. 

In this article, we’ll explore the tactics individuals employ to hide assets and provide strategies to help you avoid falling victim to such maneuvers.

 

Uncovering Hidden Assets: A Deceptive Game

When it comes to hiding assets, some individuals can be quite crafty. Here are some common tactics they employ: 

  • Incomplete Asset Declarations: During divorce proceedings, a spouse might conveniently omit certain assets when listing their possessions and debts; 
  • Artificially Inflated Expenses: To reduce the overall value of their estate, a spouse may increase their expenses and liabilities; 
  • Under-Declaration: By reporting lower values for their assets or income, a partner can create a false impression of their financial situation; and/or 
  • Assets in Others’ Names: Some resort to transferring assets into the names of family members or friends to keep them technically separate from their own estate.

 

Protecting Your Interests: Key Strategies

To safeguard your financial interests during a divorce and uncover any hidden assets, consider these proactive steps: 

  1. Scrutinize Financial Declarations: Pay close attention to your spouse’s reported expenses and income. Compare these figures to your knowledge of their spending habits during your marriage. Ensure they disclose any bonuses or performance payments. 
  1. Immediate Action: If you suspect assets have been moved or concealed, inform your legal representative promptly. Your attorney may leverage this information in court to request a forfeiture of assets in your favor due to your spouse’s mala fide 
  1. Asset Verification: Verify the accuracy of the assets listed. For immovable property, draw a Deeds Office Property Report in your spouse’s name. Should there be immovable property kept in the name of companies/ corporations, draw a Companies and Intellectual Property Commission Report on the registered entity. If assets are missing, request further investigation through legal channels. 
  1. Change of Ownership Challenges: Under specific scenarios, you may be able to request that the court set aside changes of ownership. The feasibility of this depends on the asset type, its value, and how ownership was altered. 
  1. Legal Consequences: Deliberate financial deceit in divorce proceedings can lead to charges of perjury or fraud for the deceptive spouse, depending on the circumstances. Consult with your attorney on how to pursue legal action if necessary.

 

Conclusion:

Navigating a divorce is an emotionally taxing experience, and the complexities surrounding hidden assets can make it even more challenging. 

By remaining vigilant, consulting with knowledgeable professionals, and taking proactive steps to verify financial information, you can protect your interests and ensure a fair resolution during divorce proceedings. 

Remember, transparency and legal recourse are your allies in unveiling hidden assets and securing a just outcome.

The content does not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Kindly contact us on info@cklaw.co.za or 021 556 9864 to speak to one of our attorneys.

Author:
Zahnri Griebenow

Zahnri Griebenow

Zahnri joined CK as an associate in April 2023.

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