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Hiding money in Arizona divorce tougher due to technology

Individuals in Arizona looking to get out of a troubled marriage are often under a lot of pressure. Concerns about maintaining the lifestyles they have become accustomed to may inspire some spouses to try to squirrel away money or hide assets from each other.

This is practice that may be more prevalent in high-asset divorce circumstances, but it is certainly not limited to couples in the top tax brackets. It is equally true, however, that it is getting to be a lot harder to hide wealth that should be subject to property division these days. One big reason is because of the advancements in electronic discovery.

Whether the scheme is to obscure hard currency in a bank vault or to create a surreptitious investment account that churns silently to grow an extra reserve of money, technology is providing ways of discovery. In community property states like Arizona, uncovering those reserves can be very important.

Techniques vary. Suspicious spouses may take on the job themselves by checking on their mate's Internet browsing history. There is also software that can be installed on a computer to record keystrokes that can then be deciphered to uncover account activities or email communications with a suspected lover. And don't forget GPS, now available in many cars and smartphones.

Experienced divorce attorneys, keeping up with the times, are also able to leverage computer tools to ferret out information from records.

Whether all the tools available for one spouse to spy on another are legal is another question. Anything beyond a Google search as part of spouse-on-spouse spying is suspect by most courts. But recent decisions make clear that it may be possible for divorce attorneys to scour Facebook entries and emails for discovery purposes.

Considering the potential consequences that can result when someone is convicted of obtaining information illegally, the best advice is to contact an attorney who can take advantage of existing tools legally to obtain the best results for the client.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Why Hiding Money From Your Spouse Has Gotten a Lot Harder," Veronica Dagher, April 30, 2012

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