Dividing assets can be one of the most contentious processes during a divorce, frequently resulting in heated arguments. The potential disagreements that sometimes occur may cause some spouses to try and hide finances until after the divorce becomes final in hopes of keeping those assets for themselves.

South Dakota law requires courts to apply what is referred to as “equitable division,” meaning the court must distribute the divorcing couple’s marital property fairly but not necessarily equally. Rather than splitting property 50-50, the court divides marital assets by accounting for each spouse’s situation and their contributions during the marriage.

When one spouse hides assets from another, it impacts the equitable division process. Each party has a duty to be honest and forthright. As part of this process, each party must supply various financial documents, including state and federal tax returns or paycheck stubs. After the initial disclosure, both parties have a continuing duty to supplement these records whenever a material financial change occurs.

If you think divorce might be on the horizon and suspect a spouse will try and hide assets, begin gathering documentation immediately. Make copies of bank statements, deeds to property owned, vehicle titles, appraisals, retirement plan statements and investment-related documents such as stocks or bonds.

If you are already in the process of a divorce and suspect your spouse is hiding assets, tell your attorney. There are several ways to hide assets, so knowing what to look for can help you spot if your partner is withholding information. A knowledgeable attorney will know where to look to locate hidden assets.

Individuals who withhold financial information face harsh monetary sanctions and even contempt charges if caught. 

If the court finds an individual has concealed assets, the court can penalize the withholding spouse by reallocating those assets to the non-withholding partner. In addition, the deceptive spouse may have to pay court costs and the other spouse’s attorney’s fees.

No one can stop someone from trying to hide assets, but you can take action to bring a spouse’s deceptive acts to the court’s attention to help ensure a fair and equitable outcome.

The divorce attorneys of Anker Law Group, P.C. in Rapid City, South Dakota help divorcing clients who believe their spouses are withholding assets. To schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team, call 605-519-5967 or contact us online.

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