In a Georgia divorce, the spouses must divide their marital property according to state guidelines. This can be a long, complicated process, but it begins with the spouses disclosing all their assets and debts.
On the surface, this requirement may seem straightforward. The parties list their bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, any real estate or other valuable property, along with any outstanding debts.
Hiding assets in divorce is against the law
Unfortunately, many spouses are dishonest at this stage of the property division process. They refuse to disclose certain assets, hoping that their ex won’t notice and so they will be able to keep the assets to themselves when the divorce is over. Some even go to great lengths to conceal assets, stashing them with friends, creating hidden accounts and taking other actions to hide their wealth.
In recent years, many divorce lawyers have noticed an increase in cases where one spouse attempts to hide assets by using cryptocurrency.
Here, it’s important to state clearly that hiding assets in divorce is illegal. When spouses submit their disclosures, they sign affidavits stating that their disclosures are complete and truthful. If they lie in these affidavits, they can be found in contempt of court.
A recent CNBC story about the topic profiled one woman who discovered her soon-to-be-ex-husband was concealing half a million dollars in cryptocurrency. She said she knew that her husband earned $3 million a year, but in their divorce, his disclosure forms showed little in the way of assets. This led her to suspect he was hiding something.
She hired a forensic accountant to look into the matter and spent more than a year trying to get to the bottom of what was going on. Eventually, she found that her husband was secretly keeping 12 Bitcoins, which were worth about $500,000 at the time.
Experts say this kind of scenario is increasingly common as cryptocurrency becomes more popular, but the law has been slow to catch up with the phenomenon. Cryptocurrency is still largely unregulated, and many states have failed to account for cryptocurrency in their standard divorce disclosure forms.
Experienced divorce attorneys and forensic accountants must learn new ways to track down hidden assets.