On Friday, I was invited to speak to Mark Forrest on BBC Radio about couples who hide money from each other in secret accounts.
Hiding bank accounts from your partner is not new, and several recent studies have highlighted just how common it can be. It is especially prevalent when dealing with divorce. As a forensic accountant, I deal with it all the time. People will attempt to gain an advantage over their partner by downplaying their assets and income, while trying to emphasise their liabilities.
It’s not particularly commendable behaviour but it’s also unsurprising. Anyone going through a divorce will want to be in the best possible financial position when it is all over. People hide money in all sorts of different places. It can be as simple as one of their local high street banks or as complex as trust assets based in the Caribbean.
This is when family law forensic accountants are called in. We use every available resource to track down any money or assets that someone has tried to hide. When we do uncover an account or a property which had not been previously disclosed, the most common response is that they had simply forgotten about it. They had intended to disclose everything, but that particular bank account just slipped their mind.
Usually, the partner who hid assets will seek to make a deal once they have been found out. This is so the deception does not become a point of discussion in a court room.
My advice to couples is to simply be honest with each other. Whether you decide to combine your accounts and assets or keep them separate, an honest disclosure of what you have is definitely the right thing to do.
To listen to the full conversation, or read a transcript of it click here. My segment begins at 01:16:00 and will be available for the next few weeks.
Photo by William Grootonk via Flickr