What do you have to disclose about your financial affairs to your spouse during a divorce?
In short: You need to disclose everything. If you don't, you could end up in serious trouble with the law that goes well beyond your divorce.
Take, for example, the situation involving a Florida couple whose divorce has evolved into a criminal case. The couple started divorce proceedings back in 2010, but prosecutors recently charged the husband -- who has remarried in recent years -- with several financial crimes related to his efforts to hide money and assets from his first wife. Prosecutors say he abused his position as the chief executive officer of a major corporation to funnel money and other property through some shell corporations, sham sales and trusts -- all in an effort to avoid splitting the marital assets fairly. He's now charged with money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy -- and facing up to 60 years in prison. In addition, he may face tax evasion charges for not filing several years' worth of returns -- despite a multimillion-dollar income.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that prosecutors won't be interested in their "private business" if they pull some legal shenanigans during their divorces. They're wrong.
The reality is that you can spend more money trying to avoid a fair split of your assets than you actually end up saving -- plus get yourself into trouble. Forensic accountants often get involved in high-asset divorces, just to make sure that everything a couple owns is properly recorded and valued before it is divided. Don't take the chance that you'll get caught hiding something. Instead, work with your divorce attorney to legally protect what's yours. You may have more options than you realize.