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Division of property and hiding assets in divorce

A divorce in Pennsylvania may become more contentious and complicated if one spouse believes the other is hiding assets. This was the case with a 61-year-old woman who was divorcing her spouse of 25 years. The woman had been the main support for a decade, but her husband wanted both the home and half of her 401(k) in the divorce. The woman also said that he was sharing financial information with her sister but not with her and her attorney.

While a person may not be able to open the other spouse's mail, it is possible to write down the names of financial institutions sending mail to get an idea of where assets might be. A forensic accountant might be able to trace these assets. A letter from an attorney might put a stop to the information sharing.

Divorce among older couples is rising. People 50 and older are about twice as likely to divorce as they were in the 1990s. Furthermore, people may wait until they are more stable financially before getting married. Both of these circumstances can lead to divorces in which people have valuable assets to divide. In this case, the couple lived in California, a community property state, so the man was entitled to half his wife's 401(k).

Pennsylvania is not a community property state. However, the wife may still owe a portion of the retirement account to her husband. In a case like this, the wife might also be required to pay spousal support. This is often the case when there is a large disparity in income. In a high-asset divorce, a couple might also need to go through a complex division of such assets as closely-held businesses, real estate holdings and valuable collections.

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