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Understanding possible financial fraud in a Washington divorce

A divorce in Washington State can be simple or complex depending on the circumstances. Along the same lines, these situations can be amicable or rife with endless dispute. When the end of a marriage is contentious, it is possible that one of the spouse was using financial trickery or committing fraud; this could carry over into the divorce proceedings. Understanding the various signs of fraud can help a person better prepare for the divorce.

A large amount of information can be gleaned from examining tax returns, bank records, credit card information, business accounts, retirement accounts and property appraisals. If there is an abnormality, it could be a signal that a spouse was trying to do something underhanded during that marriage or in anticipation of the divorce.

If a person suspects that their spouse is not being financially honest, there are certain potential signs to watch for. For example, if the spouse becomes increasingly secretive, that can be a sign of dishonest or even fraudulent activity. Another sign can be if a spouse has mail sent to their office or a private box rather than the home. In addition, strange withdrawals of cash, or money being loaned to family and friends without discussing it can be signs of a spouse's financial deception.

Dissipation is another issue that frequently arises with finances when a marriage is on its way to ending. Technically, dissipation refers to a spouse trying to minimize assets from the marriage by depleting them, diverting them or hiding them. Some examples include money that was spent on extramarital relationships, gambling and destroying property that belonged to both parties.

The end of a marriage occurs for many reasons and in some instances, a spouse might not even be aware that something was amiss until the property division is negotiated and questionable practices come to light. In many marriages, the spouses know each other so well that their suspicion has an accurate foundation. When there is a divorce in progress and a spouse believes that the other is engaging in financial fraud, an attorney can help with getting to the bottom of the matter and making certain the assets are divided fairly.

Source: Huffington Post, "Financial Fraud and Divorce," Peggy L. Tracy, Oct. 2, 2015

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