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Is it ever okay to hide assets during a divorce?

The answer to the question in this headline is no. There are not circumstances under which it is wise to hide or otherwise misrepresent your assets or liabilities during a divorce. In fact, doing so could result in severe legal ramifications.

However, there are steps you can take to lawfully protect property during the division of assets process.

  1. Create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This solution takes some forward thinking, but it can provide critical protection of separate assets in the event of a divorce.
  2. Negotiate during mediation. If you have certain assets you want to protect, then you can negotiate an agreement that allows you to keep those assets. For instance, you might give up a real estate property in exchange for keeping your 401(k), or agree to pay spousal maintenance so you can keep an art collection. Compromising and negotiating can help you protect the assets you value most.
  3. Build your case for litigation. If you cannot resolve property-related matters during mediation, then you should prepare your case for court. This can involve contesting alimony requests, having a financial analyst testify as to the type and value of a disputed asset or calling into question various contributions and efforts of your ex.

These are all legitimate and lawful ways to protect specific assets and minimize costly concessions. 

That being said, you must understand that your marital estate will be divided, and it will be divided in accordance with Pennsylvania's equitable distribution laws. You cannot avoid this, and trying to shift this balance by hiding assets will only work against you.

Securing assets can be complicated and contentious because there is money and property at stake. However, before you make costly mistakes out of fear or self-preservation, it can be crucial that you consult an attorney who can help you pursue lawful avenues to secure the settlement you deserve. 

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