Dividing property is just one part of the divorce process. If a spouse hides assets, however, this could become much more complex for couples in Colorado. A billionaire couple in Texas is in a dispute over marital property after one spouse placed most of that property in asset trusts in South Dakota.

In 2017, the man filed for divorce after nearly 30 years of marriage. The woman assumed that she would receive about half of the more than $2 billion she estimated their property to be worth. However, according to her husband’s lawyers, their marital property was valued at around $12 million. The rest of their property, including homes, yachts and even tableware and jewelry, was placed in the trusts, which the woman could not access.

She filed a lawsuit the following year alleging that her husband had created the trusts as a way to prevent her from claiming her share of the marital property. One of her concerns is that she will only get enough to cover her legal bills. The court hearing was supposed to be in April, but it was postponed because of the COVID-19 crisis. The strict privacy laws that are among the things that make the trusts attractive to people around the world trying to shield assets from taxes, divorce and creditors also mean she can get little information about the trust.

Spouses who are going through a divorce should keep in mind that even the appearance of attempting to hide assets could be damaging if they have to go to litigation for property division. For example, it might not be possible for one person to close a joint account. An attorney could help a soon-to-be ex get through the property division process.

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