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Divorce case broadly relevant for its focus on shielding assets

A key aspect of most divorce negotiations and settlements in Colorado and every other state is asset division. In Colorado, that is carried out in a manner similar to most other states, namely, through what is termed an equitable distribution of property.

Equitable distribution means a fair apportionment. Rather than being an "equal" split in any narrow sense, property division in a Colorado divorce is most centrally marked by what a judge in his or her discretion considers to be a reasonable and even-handed division of marital property.

Making that assessment can be challenging, especially in a high-asset divorce case. The reasons for that are obvious: A comparatively large amount of wealth means in most cases widely varying types of assets to consider. Those can include multiple parcels of real property, myriad savings and investment accounts, collectibles, vehicles, inheritances and family businesses or professional practices.

An experienced divorce attorney with proven acumen in locating and valuing the many sources of wealth in a high-asset marriage can be invaluable for helping to ensure accuracy and an equitable outcome.

A recent divorce case in Alaska is relevant in Colorado and elsewhere for illustrating the point that assets are sometimes hidden by one spouse prior to divorce and need to be identified for inclusion in an equitable divorce distribution. The Alaska case is also receiving considerable media attention owing to the value of the hidden assets involved and for its instructive value on the dire legal consequences that can result for any person seeking to shield wealth from judicial scrutiny in a divorce matter.

Developments are still unfolding in that case, but an Anchorage surgeon has been indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple felony counts of wire fraud for smuggling more than $4 million out of the country. The doctor subsequently brought the money back into the United States through deposit into a shell corporation, with his actions being for the express purpose of hiding the wealth from his spouse in a divorce proceeding.

Those actions could bring a heavy price, including a 20-year prison sentence, $250,000 fine and other penalties.

Source: Alaska Dispatch, "Alaska plastic surgeon indicted for smuggling millions to Panama," Casey Grove, Sept. 20, 2013

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