Berman & Asbel, LLP

High-asset divorce tips for Pennsylvania residents

Divorce can be a challenge, especially when one party has little knowledge of the financial workings of the family. A recently article published by Forbes gives a range of tips to women who are considering a divorce. By taking the time to become better prepared for the split, Pennsylvania spouses can increase their power within a high-asset divorce process, and possibly enjoy a better outcome.

In many high-asset divorces, one spouse will go to great lengths to hide or disguise assets in an attempt to shield them from the divorce process. There are a number of methods to accomplish this goal, and spouses should be aware of the more common tactics. One commonly used method involves deeding property to friends and family in the months or years leading up to a divorce. The spouse does this in order to remove the asset from the family finances, but with the intent of having the property returned to him or her following the finalization of the divorce.

Another tactic is underreporting income. This can be difficult to determine, especially if the spouse has a number of different revenue streams or ownership interests in multiple ventures. However, by collecting any known financial documents, a paper trail can be created that can help a financial analyst track all sources of income.

Finally, in cases where there may be a measure of financial secrecy, spouses who are preparing to divorce might want to consider filing their tax returns separately. This is due to IRS regulations that require both spouses on a joint return to hold responsibility for any false or fraudulent information contained in the tax filing. Even if one spouse is completely unaware of such action, he or she could end up owing a large liability, or even be subject to criminal action for filing false returns.

In the end, the central message is to always proceed with caution and comprehensive preparation when dealing with a high-asset divorce in Pennsylvania. The decisions made during the divorce process will have lasting repercussions to all parties, and knowing where the family assets stand at the onset of the divorce can help ensure proper decision making during negotiations. By taking the time to collect all necessary documentation and look for evidence of hidden assets, a spouse can take control of the process and help ensure a favorable outcome.

Source: Forbes, "Five Best Financial Tips for Women Divorcing in 2013," Jeff Landers, Dec. 18, 2012

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