Spouses in a Maryland divorce need to know that they have received their share of the marital estate. Sometimes, one spouse will unilaterally reduce the size of the marital estate by hiding assets. This is likely to raise the ire of the family law court. However, the super-wealthy may be able to get away with this using the laws of one state.

South Dakota has laws on its books that are designed to make it as favorable as possible for trusts to move to the state. South Dakota makes money on these trusts, and estimates place almost $1 trillion of assets in the state. One billionaire moved nearly his entire fortune to the state, seemingly for the purpose of keeping assets from his wife in a divorce settlement. After he established the trusts, he replaced her as the beneficiary and was not even obligated by law to inform her.

The divorce has been in process for years, and the wife has engaged in a long struggle to reach these assets. Thus far, she has been unsuccessful because South Dakota law has thrown up a figurative brick wall. What was once a martial estate valued at roughly $2 billion is now around $12 million in the wake of the husband’s establishment of the trusts. There is a trial coming up, but the wife faces a difficult fight.

In a divorce, a person may want a family law attorney on their side to make sure that they are receiving a full and true accounting of the couple’s assets. Divorcing couples will exchange financial information in a divorce. However, the information that one spouse provides is not always accurate. An attorney may be able to detect any pattern of hiding assets and bring the matter to the court’s attention for the judge to take action.