Many Americans assumed, when the Patriot Act went into effect in 2001, that it would become more difficult for the wealthy to hide their assets offshore. Certainly enforcement of the laws against tax evaders who attempt to hide money offshore has intensified. In the past year or so alone, U.S. courts have handed down prison sentences to at least seven individuals who hid money in offshore accounts, one of these an Alaskan plastic surgeon involved in a divorce.

Yet some well-to-do spouses still engage in complex and expensive—even startlingly improbable—schemes in the attempt to keep assets for themselves and out of the pool of community property. Who is most likely to engage in such a plot? A sophisticated and wealthy man or woman who feels trapped in a crumbling relationship, and is angry and resentful. He (most often it’s a “he”) knows that, when he divorces, his spouse may be entitled to maintenance payments and child support and will probably stay in the family home with the children. Therefore, he becomes even more determined that the spouse he intends to leave will receive as little as possible of the rest of his hard-earned money and property.

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