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Is my spouse hiding assets in our complex divorce?

Manhattan couples embroiled in high asset divorces often overlook some less obvious, but still lucrative, assets when divvying up marital property equitably. Below are some tips for identifying and valuating assets prior to property settlement negotiations.

-- Security deposits. Often divorcing spouses both vacate the marital home and find new accommodations. Since security deposits for Manhattan properties can be substantial, this is an asset that should be equitably divided in many cases.

-- Time shares. Any ownership interest or allotted time in vacation spots must be factored in to the final property disposition.

-- Tax refunds. If already filed, in whose name is the return? Whose account receives the direct deposit? This should be addressed in writing.

-- Frequent flyer miles. When the miles were accrued together, even though the airline industry does not distinguish frequent flyer miles as "property," divorce petitions sometimes include them as a marital asset.-- Royalties, copyrights and patents. If any were created during the marriage and acquired with marital funds, they could be subject to marital property division rules.-- Hobby collections. Does your spouse collect memorabilia from the rock band KISS? Collections can run into the six figures. Coins, stamps and other collectibles, as well as the contents of wine cellars, should also be inventoried and valuated.

Suspect some hidden assets are out there? Check the registrar's office for any real estate transactions; forged signatures can be verified as such by handwriting experts. Subpoena the Department of Motor Vehicles to see what vehicles are in your spouse's name or may recently have been sold.

Even credit card records can indicate hidden funds disguised as overpayments on accounts. Banks and brokerages can be subpoenaed and records examined for withdrawals and transfers intended to hide marital assets.

A forensic accountant and/or private investigator can be invaluable in ferreting out hidden assets in high stakes divorces. Your family law attorney can often recommend professionals who can uncover valuable marital assets.

Source: Equality in Marriage, "Hidden Assets and How to Find Them" accessed Jan. 27, 2015

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