The Panama Papers: Hidden Assets in Divorce

We’ve been hearing a lot about the “Panama Papers” lately; the leak of millions of documents out of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca disgorging details of the firm’s wealthy clients hiding money via shell companies in various tax havens. Among those allegedly involved are world leaders, athletes, celebrities and businessmen.

As divorce attorneys, it is not uncommon that our clients are convinced that their spouse is hiding money. The emotional turbulence of divorce has the potential to stir up severe feelings of mistrust. However, more times than not, those suspicions are simply unfounded and are never substantiated. But the Panama Papers debacle reminds us that the issue of hidden assets in divorce is certainly a real problem.

With several big names in Britain being called out as being part of this scandal, a British publication wrote an article titled “Divorce battles loom over Panama secrets as ex-partners search for hidden fortunes”. By hiding fortunes to evade taxes, these Mossack Fonseca clients were also able to hide millions of dollars during their divorces, showing us how real this situation may be for some divorced or divorcing couples. While we don’t mean to encourage anyone to go on a witch hunt for hidden assets that don’t exist, if you are the “out spouse” so-to-speak, meaning that you were not the spouse in charge of finances during the marriage, it is important that stay informed and alert to anything that doesn’t seem right.

For most, it won’t be a breaking news story that raises the suspicion of hidden assets. Over the years, our divorce attorneys have written several articles on hidden or undisclosed assets, California disclosure requirements, and how to protect your interests. As a good starting point to becoming better-informed about this issue, please review some of our past articles on these issues:

·        Divorce Disclosure Requirements and Offshore Assets

·        Divorce – Non-Disclosure of Assets Could Lead to a Lawsuit

·        Tips for Locating Hidden Assets in Divorce

·        My Spouse is Hiding Assets – How can I Protect my Interests?

·        My Spouse is Hiding Assets

Experienced and competent legal representation is critical when issues like this arise. Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

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