Hiding marital assets during an Arizona divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage, the distribution of their marital estate can sometimes become a hotly contested affair. This is usually because under current Arizona law, any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered community property. Furthermore, community property in a divorce is subject the equitable distribution between both parties by the court. Of course, there are some exceptions to that rule. For example, property acquired by one spouse as the result of a gift or inheritance is generally not considered as part of the marital estate.

One of the biggest reasons why property division can be so difficult during divorce is because couples often have rather complex financial portfolios. For example, it is not uncommon for couples who have been married for some time to have bank and brokerage accounts, life insurance policies, 401(k) and other retirement plans and stock holdings.

Unfortunately, some individuals feel as though they should not have to share some of their wealth with their divorcing spouse. Sometimes, these people go to great lengths to conceal that property from the court to avoid an equitable distribution. Here are some examples of how that may occur:

-- A concealing spouse may transfer the ownership of certain stocks and other investment accounts to a friend or family member. They may then plan to reverse that ownership of those assets once the divorce is final.

-- Another tactic a concealing spouse might use is to overpay the Internal Revenue Service or other creditors in the hopes that they can recover those funds at a later date after the dust has settled from the divorce.

-- Concealing spouses who own a business may "hire" a buddy and pay them a substantial salary in an effort to keep certain funds from being reported as income.

If you are currently considering a divorce, you should know that your spouse may attempt to conceal assets. Your Arizona family law attorney can assist you with obtaining a true picture of your actual marital estate. Once that has been determined, it may be possible for you to receive a more equitable apportionment of that community property.

Source: Arizona State Legislature, "Property acquired during marriage as community property" Jan. 07, 2015

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