Signs that your Spouse is Hiding Assets

Hiding AssetsHiding assets to avoid sharing fairly during divorce is an unethical and illegal practice, commonly found all over the world.

Your assets may include your marital home (primary residence), holiday property, investments, bank accounts, savings, shares, retirement funds, pension plans, cash value on life insurance, a professional practice, a business and much more. Instead of relying on your spouse’s integrity or putting your trust in fair and just conduct of legal advisors, wise up and look out for these tell-tale signs and strategies:

The main objectives of hiding assets in a divorce are to:

  • Not declare them at all, undervalue assets or disguise the extent thereof
  • Overstate debts to declare insolvency
  • Report revenue (income) to be lower than it actually is
  • Claim expenses to be higher than they actually are

The most predictable tactics during divorce are:

  • Secretly hiding unrecorded cash
  • Applying complex accounting schemes to secretly extract recorded cash
  • Employing a co-conspirator to manipulate the timing of revenue (income) or accounts receivable (invoicing creditors)
  • Transferring ownership of assets to family or friends, to hold until the divorce is final
  • Lying under oath

Find out if you are you a victim of Economic Abuse?

Here are some of the oldest tricks in the book:


  • Delete financial accounting programmes, such as Pastel, Quickbooks etc.
  • Claim that a computer containing important financial records has mysteriously crashed. Remove the hard-drive to attempt retrieval of the data, but fail to do so
  • Befriend a financial advisor and go “out of town on business” (to set up remote schemes)


  • Report a dramatic decrease in the value of marital and/or business assets & investments to discourage suspicion
  • Transfer assets to family or friends (to be reversed after the divorce)
  • Sell assets to family or friends posing as independent buyers (to share profits after the divorce)


  • Maintain or obtain complete control of bank accounts, banking information and passwords
  • Open multiple personal or business bank accounts to shift funds
  • Set up bank accounts in the name of a child or friend to hide funds


  • Neglect to reimburse expenses which are for business purposes (postpone till after the divorce)
  • Overpay creditors or pre-pay suppliers (which can be refunded after the divorce)
  • Add family or friends to the payroll or pay them for “consulting services” (to be paid back to you later)
  • Delay signing of new contracts which would increase income


  • Make unusually expensive purchases, such as jewellery, recreational toys, cars etc. (which can be sold again)
  • Purchase art or collectors’ items (to be sold again at a later stage)
  • Acquire multiple cell phones or numbers in a short period of time (to hide interactions and dealings)
  • Make large amounts of drawings on debt (to increase liabilities and stash the cash)
  • Take cash withdrawals on debit cards (they don’t show on statements)
  • Pay debt to family and friends (only to be paid back after the divorce)


  • Suffer a mysterious decrease in income, but keep the expenses the same
  • Refrain from receiving commissions or bonuses (postpone until after the divorce)
  • Turn down a promotion (to be back-dated and paid after the divorce)


  • Pressurise your spouse to sign legal documents in a hurry without studying them thoroughly
  • Propose mutual power of attorney for the purpose of estate planning (to gain control)
  • Establish ways to transfer funds to countries with less stringent monetary laws


  • Complain about money or debt to avoid later suspicions
  • Be vague or secretive about financial affairs
  • Receive accounts and statements at a private postal box or mailing address
  • Declare the sudden failure of a business
  • Claim entitlement beforehand
  • If you gamble frequently, place money on account at casinos


  • Submit false under-reported tax returns
  • Overpay the tax authorities (to be refunded after the divorce)

How do you counter all of this if you cannot afford an expensive legal and financial team?

  1. Establish a clear picture of your standard of living during the marriage, at least a period of two years before the breakdown of the relationship.
  2. Analyse those living expenses and tie them up with all known sources of income, assets and loans.
  3. Compare them with the current sources of income, assets and loans declared by your spouse. Any discrepancies revealed, is a sure sign of concealed income and/or assets.
  4. Learn from this experience – be financially aware and involved from the onset if you marry again, by acquiring a working knowledge of your joint assets and liabilities as well as your income and expenses.


Let me teach you how to ensure that your spouse won’t be so unfair


Written by Sinta Ebersohn (Creator of – Stellenbosch RSA)