When you tell your spouse, he or she doesn’t get angry, as you expected. Instead, your spouse just gets quiet and leaves the house. He or she starts living in a new apartment and doesn’t talk to you much. Phone calls go unanswered. You try to send texts and emails to learn more about the assets you both control and how they’ll get split up, but everything gets ignored.
Something is amiss
Then you start digging, and you find out your spouse transferred a significant amount of money to a brother. It’s easy to track everything down with modern electronic paper trails.
You finally get your spouse on the phone, and you’re told that it’s nothing. It was just an old debt. Your spouse insists the brother loaned you both the money years ago and you just forgot to pay it back until now.
Or, perhaps the excuse isn’t an old debt. The brother has a business idea, your spouse claims. The money is a loan to get it off the ground. Or, maybe it was his birthday, and your spouse claims the money was a gift.
Is it true? It might be, but you can see the trend here. In any of those situations, your spouse is moving assets out of your name, to a family member, and making thin excuses.
Experts warn that the reality could be that your spouse is trying to stash the money aside. It’s not a payment for a debt or a business loan. Instead, it’s a temporary transfer until the divorce is in the books. Then, when you’re out of the picture, your spouse’s brother is going to give that money back.
Everything else got divided in half in the divorce, but your spouse keeps 100 percent of that money. You were successfully cut out and ripped off.
This isn’t the only way to do it. Some people create false expenses. Your spouse could pay outrageous sums to business partners for services that were never rendered. He or she could transfer a very small amount out of your accounts every month, hoping you won’t notice; your spouse may already have been doing this for years.
Any time money leaves your estate like this, you must be wary. It’s one of the oldest ways to hide assets, but people still use it all the time. If you’re not paying attention, you could miss out on what you deserve. Be sure you know what options you have and what red flags to look for.