What Are the Consequences of Hiding Assets in Divorce?
Divorces are often heated, emotionally-charged affairs. Spouses are often looking for any opportunity to get one over their soon-to-be-ex, such as by protecting property to which they believe they are entitled or reducing their alimony or child support obligation. Each party is required to file a statement of all known assets during their divorce proceeding. Regardless of whether one spouse thinks they may gain an advantage by hiding certain assets, we strongly advise against it. Hiding assets can have dire consequences for your divorce proceeding, your livelihood, and your freedom. To make sure that your spouse is not hiding important assets in your divorce proceeding, get advice and representation from a savvy and zealous Alabama divorce lawyer. Read on to learn about the potential consequences for hiding assets in a divorce.
Hiding Assets Will Affect the Case
Your assets, both marital and separate, affect a variety of factors in your divorce: equitable division of property, alimony, child support, etc. If you try to hide assets to retain more of your wealth or pay less in child support or alimony, and you are discovered, the court will have reason to rule against you in disputes or even penalize you for your failure to disclose. The court retains the discretion to rule on matters in accordance with the principles of fairness and justice, which may incline the judge to punish you for your lack of candor.
In one notable case out of California, a woman won the lottery just days before filing for divorce. She did not disclose the winnings to her spouse or the court during the divorce proceedings. When the court found out about the lottery win, the judge ordered her to give her entire $1.3 million lottery jackpot to her ex-husband.
Hiding Assets Can Lead to Criminal Charges
When you proceed through a divorce, you make a variety of disclosures to the court and the other party through court filings and testimony. When you file such documents with the court or make statements in your testimony, you are agreeing to be honest under penalty of perjury. Failing to disclose known assets may be perjury. A court could hold you in contempt, or a prosecutor could file charges of perjury, either of which might lead to significant fines and even jail time.
Judges do understand that divorces are complicated and emotional affairs, so they typically will not resort to criminal charges in divorce proceedings. The danger still remains, however, and it is never wise to open up the possibility of criminal prosecution. Repeated, blatant lies are more likely to lead to such charges.
Hiding Assets Just Delays the Inevitable
Chances are, you will not be able to hide your assets forever. A savvy divorce lawyer on the other side will know how to pry into your affairs to determine if there may be hidden assets, including hiring forensic accountants and other experts to review your filings and financials and uncover any discrepancies. If any hidden assets are discovered, it will draw out the proceedings and cause the court to be suspect of all of your filings. If your ex finds out about the hidden assets after the divorce has been finalized, they may have grounds to reopen the proceedings and get additional compensation from you. Hidden assets are almost always found, and it is better to disclose all of your assets on your own terms.