What Should I Do If My Spouse Is Trying to Conceal Assets During Our Divorce in Indiana?

Even though Indiana does not recognize community property, Indiana law requires courts to divide property equitably in a divorce, meaning in a just and reasonable manner. Unfortunately, when a divorce commences, one or both spouses may try to conceal assets and property in order to avoid losing it to the other spouse in a divorce. Indiana law strictly prohibits hiding assets while a divorce is pending, and instead requires the disclosure of all assets.

If you suspect that your spouse is attempting to conceal or hide cash, property, or other valuable assets, we invite you to call Mattox & Wilson to schedule a consultation with an experienced New Albany asset division lawyer. For over two decades, we have been helping clients tenaciously fight for fair and equitable property division outcomes.

photo of two rings sitting on divorce papers

Is Indiana A Community Property State?

No. In community property states, most marital assets are legally owned jointly by each spouse.  As a result, in a divorce, each spouse will typically own one half of the marital estate.

In non-community property states, often some assets are owned entirely by only one of the spouses.  In a divorce, the spouse who does not legally own an asset will nonetheless have an equitable interest in all assets, which must be considered when assets are divided.

In states that equitably divide marital assets, an equal split is typically the starting point for a court, but the parties have the opportunity to provide evidence as to why certain property should be excluded from the marital estate.[1] For example, an individual could argue that a piece of property was acquired by inheritance before marriage; and therefore, it would be unfair to award the property to the other spouse.

How is Marital Property Equitably Divided During Indiana Divorces?

In Indiana, courts must distribute assets and debts in a fair and equitable manner. Distribution decisions typically take the following into account:

  • The length of the marriage,
  • The age, health, and occupations of both parties,
  • The income of both parties,
  • The liabilities of both parties, including whether certain liabilities only benefit one spouse (such as a student loan)
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, and
  • Any other factors deemed relevant.

What Is Considered Marital Property in Indiana?

At Mattox Wilson, we commonly refer to Indiana as a one-pot state, meaning that all assets typically come into play during divorce proceedings, including real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts. This also includes any debts incurred during the marriage, such as credit card debt or student loans. However, Indiana courts have the discretion to make adjustments and deviate from classifying property as marital property in seeking to equitably and fairly divide assets.

What Happens If Premarital Property, Gifts or Inherited Assets are Comingled With Other Marital Property in Indiana?

If premarital, gifted, or inherited assets, which may be otherwise subject to arguments about equitable division, are commingled with other marital property, it can become challenging to determine what portion of the commingled assets may be subject to equitable adjustments.

As an example, one spouse may have purchased a home prior to the marriage, but thereafter, the other spouse may have helped pay the mortgage, insurance, upkeep, and repair costs.  The spouse not owning the home may have also invested significant time in improving the home.  Additionally, the home may have greatly appreciated in value during the marriage.  While the house may have been originally purchased by a single spouse, a court might determine that the other spouse is entitled a monetary payment or other credit concerning the division of other marital assets or debt in recognition of that spouse’s contributions toward the home.

Where Do Spouses Commonly Try to Hide Assets in High-Asset Divorces?

Divorce is a difficult process, especially when it involves high-asset couples. In Indiana, spouses may try to hide assets from each other in order to protect their financial interests. The following are just a few of the common methods used to hide or conceal assets:

  • Hidden Business Assets. Spouses that own businesses often use their companies to make it seem like they have less money than they really do. For example, they may delay finalizing a lucrative deal until after a divorce to skew the value of the company.
  • Secret or Off-Shore Bank Accounts. An individual may keep a separate, secret bank account to regularly siphon off a portion of the marital funds.
  • Gifting Money. A common method for hiding assets involves temporarily “gifting” money to friends or family members. After a divorce is finalized, the recipient may then return the money.
  • Storing Valuable Possessions With Friends or Family. As with gifting money, a person may simply store valuable possessions at the home of a trusted family member or friend.
  • Spending. A spouse may squander funds on a significant other or on new possessions. If a spouse pays cash for pricey items, he or she may be able to hide the items or vastly underreport their worth with the intent to sell them after the finalization of the divorce.
  • Not Reporting Cash. Many professions, especially those in the service industry, receive cash payments. Many divorcing individuals will underreport their cash earnings.
  • Delaying Bonuses. If a person is due for a large bonus or promotion, he or she may attempt to delay the payments to avoid having to share the funds.
  • Custodial Accounts. While it may seem unsettling, many parties attempt to set up custodial accounts to shelter marital funds from division. Because the assets are meant for the child, they may not count as marital property. Unfortunately, many parents later raid these types of accounts after a divorce is complete.

Can I Stop My Spouse From Hiding or Concealing Assets During A Divorce in Indiana?

When a spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to obtain a divorce, the individual (referred to as the petitioner) may have an obligation under local court rules to complete a verified disclosure agreement outlining the spouse’s assets and debt. A petitioner may also file a Temporary Restraining Order on Assets (“TRO”), which is a court order prohibiting certain conduct. The Order generally applies to both spouses and prohibits either party from hiding or destroying assets in order to affect the amount available for division in a divorce.

When a person violates a TRO on assets by transferring, encumbering, concealing, or disposing of assets during a divorce, they may face severe consequences. The court may order the violator to pay fines or serve jail time, depending on the severity of the violation. Additionally, the court may also order the violator to return any hidden assets or to provide financial compensation for any losses caused by their actions. This can have long-lasting financial and legal implications for both parties involved in the divorce proceedings. Further, violating a TRO could also damage one’s reputation and credibility in court, making it more difficult to successfully resolve a case.

If you Believe Your Ex-Spouse is Concealing Assets During Your Divorce, Call Today To Schedule A Consultation With An Experienced New Albany Asset Division Attorney.

If you are contemplating divorce and have asset division concerns, we invite you to call Mattox & Wilson to schedule a consultation with a tenacious asset division lawyer to explore your legal rights regarding asset and property division.

[1] Ind. Code § 31-15-7-5 (2023).

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