What are the penalties for concealing marital assets?
Rapper Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, has been accused of attempting to conceal millions in assets from his estranged wife. In October of 2016, Laura Van Winkle filed for divorce from the celebrity in Florida. She sought the exclusive use of the family home, along with spousal and child support. Now, Laura Van Winkle is back in court and claims that Vanilla Ice failed to disclose substantial marital assets. She alleges that she discovered the rapper transferred a large share of his assets into his company’s name during the marriage. Now, the court is left to untangle a financial web of intermixed marital and separate assets, and Vanilla Ice could face trouble in court if he intentionally concealed assets.
Concealment of Marital Assets
During a divorce, both spouses must make a full and accurate accounting of their marital assets so that the court can fairly divide the assets. At times, one spouse may attempt to conceal or hide assets from the other. Sometimes, schemes to conceal assets begin long before the divorce is even initiated.
There are many potential methods for hiding assets. A spouse could attempt to transfer real estate or bank accounts out of their name, may squirrel away joint funds in a separate account, or could withdraw and hide money in a safe deposit box. Other times, a spouse may attempt to deflate their income. This is particularly common when a spouse is self-employed and can write themselves checks for lower amounts.
Uncovering Concealed Assets
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, you may need the assistance of a private investigator or financial expert. A forensic account is trained specifically to trace assets and uncover monies that have been hidden. You can also attempt to find the missing funds on your own with the help of your attorney and the court. You can subpoena bank statements, employee records, and more to unearth missing funds.
If your spouse is found to have concealed assets, he or she could face punishment in divorce court and potentially criminal court. The court may punish the concealer by awarding the innocent spouse a greater percentage of the marital assets. A judge could also order your spouse to pay you more in support to make up for the missing assets. At times, you can even be arrested for intentional concealment of assets.