A person in Indiana who discovers that a spouse is hiding assets may be concerned about getting their share of the marital property. This is the case for a Texas woman whose husband filed for divorce in 2017. She originally assumed that she would be getting half of their property, which she estimated to be worth over $2 billion. However, she learned that her husband had moved a substantial amount of their property into asset trusts in South Dakota. According to her husband’s attorneys, their shared property is now only worth $12 million.

South Dakota asset trusts are designed to protect property in case of divorce as well as from creditors, legal judgments and taxes. They are used by wealthy individuals from all over the world, and their strict privacy laws make learning anything about them difficult. The man’s attorneys say that the property belongs to the trust even though it includes the couple’s homes, yachts and such personal items as tableware. With her legal bills already in the millions, the woman is facing the possibility of only getting enough to cover the cost of the divorce.

She filed a lawsuit in 2018 in which she said that the purpose of the trusts was to prevent her from getting her part of the shared property. An April hearing was indefinitely postponed due to COVID-19.

In some divorces, couples are able to negotiate an agreement for property division and child custody, but there are other situations, such as this one, in which it is simply not possible. Even a spouse who is not trying to hide assets may simply be uncooperative and unwilling to negotiate. Going to court might also be necessary for parents who are concerned that their children are unsafe with the other parent. An attorney may be able to help a person prepare for litigation.

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