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To achieve a fair divorce, uncover any hidden assets

Most Massachusetts couples will likely agree that trust is one of the most important components of a healthy relationship. When two people decide to divorce, no matter the reason, in most cases, either prior to or during the divorce process, trust is eroded to some degree. When trust is depleted or absent, one party in a divorce may attempt to hide assets from the other. A financial expert offers advice for uncovering such hidden assets, since doing so will increase the likelihood that both parties will be treated fairly in the divorce.

Divorcing individuals who hide assets typically do so in one of the following ways: denying the asset exists, transferring the asset to a third party, claiming the asset was lost or creating false debt. The person investigating any of these events may encounter a challenge, but he or she can look for a paper trail to help. In the event the offending party has diligently covered his or her tracks, the investigating party can access past tax returns for important information that may raise a red flag.

When examining tax returns, people looking for hidden assets are smart to look for certain reported items as well as discrepancies in such items year to year. For example, a person intending to hide an existing property from a spouse will have to include a property tax deduction in the itemized deduction section of a tax return. The investigating party can also look at the supplemental income and loss section of a return, which may reveal income or losses from rental properties, royalties and such. In addition, a person should look at any mortgage closing documents, which can offer all sorts of revealing details, as well as any places in the marital home in which important documents may be found, such as a safe deposit box.

Massachusetts residents who are going through a divorce or are thinking about beginning the process are wise to keep in mind that the dissolution of a marriage, like any other partnership, should ideally end with a fair distribution of assets. With this goal in mind, each party should ensure that all assets are revealed during the process. An experienced family law attorney can provide guidance in this area as well as all other aspects of the divorce process.

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