5 Signs That Your Spouse is Hiding Assets

When a couple is undergoing a divorce, parties may disagree on issues such as their rights to child custody and control, spousal maintenance, and the division of matrimonial assets.

Arriving at a just and equitable division of the pool of matrimonial assets can be a challenging task, especially as the relationship between the couple may become increasingly hostile in the midst of the divorce process. 


Under the Women’s Charter, matrimonial assets include: 

  1. Assets acquired prior to the marriage which were used by one or both parties or their children, or substantially improved by one or both parties during the marriage. 

  2. Assets acquired by one or both parties during the marriage. 


Generally, marital assets comprise of savings in bank accounts, investment shares, the family vehicle(s), cash in the couple’s Central Provident Fund (“CPF”) accounts, insurance policies and jewelry and artwork. During divorce proceedings, matrimonial assets are divided between the spouses in a just and equitable manner. 

If an asset is not part of the matrimonial pool, it will not be subject to division between the spouses. Hence, when divorce is imminent or ongoing, a dishonest spouse might try to hide some of his/her assets to prevent their spouse from obtaining their rightful share of the matrimonial pool. 

Here are some common ways in which a dishonest spouse may conceal his/her assets: 


1. Lending money or buying expensive gifts for relatives and friends



A common method of removing assets from the matrimonial pool is to transfer substantial sums of money to, or buy expensive gifts for, relatives or friends. 

In the Singapore case of TNL v TNK [2017], the husband spent $43,000 to buy a car for the younger son and granted a loan worth $63,000 to a friend, among other substantial expenses. He sought to exclude the expenses from the matrimonial pool of assets. 

However, the Singapore Court of Appeal held that the expenses ought to be included in the matrimonial pool. This is because the wife had an actual interest in the sums expended, and there was no indication that she had agreed to the payments or loans. 


2. Transferring money to a separate bank account



If your spouse starts to transfer money from a joint bank account to a separate undisclosed account or a savings account, that could be a sign that they are attempting to remove monies from the pool of matrimonial assets. 

Alternatively, or additionally, they may transfer monies to an offshore account. This will be an additional hurdle when determining the total value of the matrimonial assets as it may be difficult to trace such overseas accounts. Financial documents and bank statements would prove critical in all matrimonial disputes irregardless.

In TNL v TNK [2017] itself, the wife had transferred monies from a joint account with her husband to a joint account that she shared with her daughter. The husband was unaware of the existence of the latter joint account until this was discovered during the course of discovery process during the divorce proceedings. The Court of Appeal included the transferred monies in the pool of matrimonial assets.


3. Failing to disclose digital assets



Investing in digital assets such as cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) is a relatively new phenomenon that people are still unfamiliar with. Hence, while you may check your spouse’s bank accounts and investments in stocks, you might not immediately consider checking your spouse’s investments in digital assets. 

However, if your spouse is a consistent and savvy investor, they might have undisclosed digital wallets or accounts on cryptocurrency exchange through which they make investments in digital assets. You should consider the real possibility of this occurring, especially in the presence of the following signs: 

  • Unexplained withdrawals from sole or joint bank accounts, 

  • The presence of digital assets-related applications like ‘KuCoin’, ‘Gemini’ and ‘Coinbase’ on your spouse’s phone, 

  • Substantial online purchases – instead of directly buying digital assets using money from bank accounts (which can be traced), your spouse might sell goods on specific forums in exchange for cryptocurrency, to avoid detection. 

An additional issue with uncovering digital assets is that they are intended to be difficult to trace. Hence, experts may be needed to help track them down.


4. Becoming a trustee for a third party



If your spouse sets up a trust fund for the benefit of a relative or other third party, this might be a method to strategically remove assets from the pool of marital property. Alternatively, or additionally, your spouse may purchase property in the name of a third party and claim to hold it on trust for the third party. 

In UKA v UKB [2018], the wife declared that two properties were held on trust for the couple’s children around the time that the husband had moved out of the matrimonial home. The Singapore High Court refused to accept this declaration and concluded that this was an attempt to remove the properties from the pool of matrimonial assets. As a result, the properties were added back to the pool of matrimonial assets. 

The timing of the creation of the trust is particularly important. If your spouse declares a trust when divorce is imminent or already ongoing, that is a clear indication that they are attempting to reduce the value of the pool of matrimonial assets. 


5. Undervaluing business interests



If your spouse is a shareholder and/or director of a company, they could understate the performance and profits of the company, and/or the value of the dividends they are receiving. They might overvalue the company’s liabilities and undervalue its debts. This is even more likely in situations where you are not involved in the company, as you are unlikely to know or question the company’s performance. 

Similarly, assets could be hidden as business expenses in the company's financial records.

If your spouse starts to complain that the company is not doing well when divorce is imminent or ongoing, you should question whether this is indeed true. 



There are many ways in which a dishonest spouse may hide assets in an attempt to exclude them from the pool of matrimonial assets. This can inhibit your ability to obtain a just and equitable share of the matrimonial assets. 

If your spouse suddenly starts engaging in unusual financial transactions, this could be a red flag that they are concealing assets. These transactions may include transferring large sums of money to unfamiliar or secret accounts, making unexplained withdrawals, or consistently paying in cash instead of using traceable methods. Reviewing your joint account regularly can help you identify any suspicious activities.

If you notice the above signs and have suspicions that your spouse may be hiding assets from you, you should take steps to uncover these hidden assets.