That kind of misbehavior or selfish behavior is seen frequently in the high-net-worth arena. In those cases, forensic accountants and fraud investigators are available to uncover efforts that are made perhaps by a spouse to hide assets, and just as importantly to locate assets which may have been hidden. Sometimes that kind of financial misbehavior is illegal. For example, setting up an offshore presence and not revealing it on your federal income tax return can constitute tax fraud. It can get people into all kinds of problems. It may even have consequences for the innocent spouse, the spouse who wasn’t involved in setting up some kind of an offshore presence. Those are issues that need to be dealt with discretely, but it needs to be dealt with thoroughly, because if they’re not, then we certainly don’t want to be in a situation where we’ve rewarded that kind of inappropriate behavior by not taking affirmative, positive action against it.
There are worse, egregious methods of disguising assets. If the party on the other side of a divorce case has been engaged in what sometimes is called “divorce planning” for a long period of time before the other spouse learns of the divorce, it sometimes is a signal that maybe some money has been inappropriately moved, or inappropriately vested in a family member or a parent. An attorney will take a close look at those kinds of situations, because many times they signal that something inappropriate has happened before we even come to the case.
Chuck Roberts is a family lawyer at Momkus McCluskey Roberts, LLC, one of the largest law firms in DuPage County, Illinois.