The Consequences Of Hiding Assets During Divorce
While many divorces go relatively smoothly, with little contention between the parties, this is not always the case. In fact, divorce can bring out the worst in people, especially when it comes to splitting up assets. Sometimes, a spouse may even attempt to rob the other of a fair property settlement by hiding or failing to disclose certain assets during divorce. Besides being unethical, doing so can result in serious repercussions from the court, including the levying of contempt or perjury charges.
When a court discovers that a spouse has been hiding assets to avoid an equitable split of their property, it has a number of different options. One of the most common, however, is to reallocate the couple’s assets, giving the wronged spouse a greater portion of another asset to compensate him or her for the other spouse’s behavior. Alternatively, a court could choose to award the entirety of the asset that was hidden to the wronged spouse, especially if it was marital property, (or property that was acquired by either spouse after the marriage took place). If a spouse is found to be hiding assets, a court will also likely require that person to pay the other spouse’s legal fees or cover the cost of hiring a forensic accountant.
Contempt of Court Proceedings
By hiding assets during divorce proceedings, a person is defying the court outright, obstructing the administration of justice. In these cases, judges have the option of holding a person in contempt. While most divorce-related misconduct results in civil (and not criminal) contempt charges, they should still not be taken lightly, as they can come with hefty fines and even jail time.
By hiding assets from a spouse and a family law judge, a person has lied to the court, opening him or her up to the possibility of being charged with perjury. This is a misdemeanor charge that is accompanied by fines and in some cases, imprisonment. These kinds of charges are usually withheld unless there is strong evidence that the spouse intentionally misled the court.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Spouse of Hiding Assets
If you notice a change in your family’s finances, such as a sudden decrease in income, missing bank statements, unexplained visits from friends or family members (who may be holding on to an asset until the finalization of divorce), or a suspicious change in your spouse’s behavior, he or she could be hiding assets. A forensic accountant can help you track down and account for these anomalies, while an experienced attorney can bring the matter to the attention of the court.
Contact Us for Help with Your Property Settlement
To learn more about the consequences of hiding assets during divorce, or for help keeping track of your own finances during property settlement negotiations, call dedicated Fort Lauderdale property division lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today. You can also set up a free consultation by reaching out to a member of our legal team via online message.