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Creating a sense of financial security for life after divorce requires more than a single-faceted approach. From securing essential post-divorce payments — including alimony and child support — to obtaining half of the marital assets during property division, California family law provides ample opportunities to ensure that a person is not financially stunted from divorce. Unfortunately, some individuals try to circumvent these protections by hiding assets during their divorce.

Hiding assets is a popular method used by those who want to keep more than their share of the marital assets. These individuals might use a variety of approaches for keeping assets hidden, such as claiming that they lost an asset or that it never existed in the first place. Temporarily transferring property to another person until the divorce is finalized is another common approach.

Realizing that a soon-to-be ex-spouse has hidden property can be extremely frustrating, but it is not an impossible situation. Hiding an asset generally creates a paper trail that can be traced. Those who are unsure of where to begin looking for a paper trail often turn to tax documents, which can provide a surprising amount of information. Itemized deductions, earned interest, capital gains and losses and more are all listed on tax return documents and be key in locating missing and hidden assets.

Because hidden assets can significantly impact the outcome of property division, it is a good idea to take a thorough inventory of all assets as early on in the divorce process as possible. Ideally, this inventory should occur before even bringing up the subject of divorce, although this is understandably not always possible. Individuals who are concerned that their ex might be hiding assets may want to consider speaking with an attorney who is experienced in California family law and can provide further insight into the matter.