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Tips for achieving a fair property division

One of the biggest court disputes between divorcing spouses is over the sharing of marital property, which is any property acquired during the marriage. By Missouri state law, in property division, marital assets are supposed to be equitably divided between the spouses. Because partners are not always up front about their assets, an expert has disclosed a few pointers that may help divorcing spouses get a fair settlement.

Business owners resort to fraud, not only to save on taxes, but also to get better deals in the division of property. Their usual tactic is to lower the business's estimated value, and hide profits in hidden accounts or fake business expenses. For example, one man reported his official salary to be $500,000, while his actual income was $2 million. The hidden $1.5 million was spent on his personal lifestyle, including $1million on house remodeling.

Another husband said that he had a salary of $100,000, even though he was spending at least that amount annually at restaurants and nightclubs. His wife knew he was lying about his income because she had found $50,000 cash under their sofa. Other spouses hide their income in very simple ways, such as stashing income in personal brokerage accounts, rather than their business accounts.

Detecting hidden income is not as hard as it sounds. Estranged spouses may obtain the service of professionals, such as forensic accountants or private investigators, who investigate these matters and do the accounting work. Their operating principle is that people's lifestyles reveal how much money they are earning.

Finally, spouses of St. Charles, Missouri, who are having property division problems, should seek the assistance. Such a property division specialist can guide the spouses through the ensuring they receive a fair settlement.

Source: Bloomberg, "Hunting for Hidden Cash in Divorce Proceedings," Ben Steverman, June 4, 2013.

Joseph J. Porzenski
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