Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. have conducted mediations where one or both spouses have hidden assets before or during the divorce process in order to avoid splitting them with their soon to be ex-spouse.
One of the most common ways to hide assets is to remove money from marital accounts over a period of time and put the cash into a place or places that cannot be very easily located through the Florida Family Law discovery process. Often, a spouse who is contemplating filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will start hiding money prior to his or her spouse realizing that a divorce action is imminent.
When your spouse owns his own business, your Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have seen the scenario where the spouse pays a salary or wages to a nonexistent employee. This can be very difficult to detect when the business pays by direct deposit into their employees’ bank accounts. It is possible for a business to pay employees using Payroll Debit Cards that are automatically loaded with the employee’s paycheck. The cards can be used like debit cards; the employee can use the card to make purchases, receive cash back from purchases, or withdraw money from an ATM. Once the employer loads the paycheck onto a Payroll Debit Card, the employer can’t track the funds which makes it impossible to determine whether an employee is non-existent. In addition, your spouse could delay signing new business contracts that could be extremely profitable until after the divorce is finalized in order to maintain the status quo.
If your spouse’s business receives some payments from customers in cash, it is possible for the business to have income that is not listed in its’ sales records and which are not reported for tax purposes. This is common when one spouse is self-employed and our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have found that during the course of the marriage, the other spouse was more than aware that this type of conduct was occurring. In order to establish how much cash is being removed from the business, it is usually necessary for the parties to retain forensic accountants.
When a spouse is employed as a salesperson or in management, it is likely that he or she receives bonuses and/or other employment assets like merit raises or stock options. A spouse can attempt to delay receiving these type of employments assets until after a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage has been entered in order to keep the entire asset, but the availability of these types of assets can be learned through proper discovery.
Some of the other ways to hide assets include a spouse setting up custodial accounts in the names of the parties’ children that the other spouse is unaware of; purchasing valuable artwork and/or other collectibles that the other spouse is unaware of the value of; or listing debts to a friend or family member on the spouses financial affidavit that are non-existent other than on paper.
If you are preparing to mediate your Florida dissolution of marriage case, it is important that you keep in mind that some spouses hide money and other marital assets.