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What are the penalties for hiding assets in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2018 | High Asset Divorce |

For divorcing couples in St. Charles, dividing assets can be challenging. This is especially true when one spouse tries to hide assets from the other in an attempt to retain marital property that should be divvied up according to the law. Not only is this practice unethical it’s also illegal and subject to serious consequences, as explained by Forbes.

Reporting assets to the courts

With all contested divorces, both spouses must sign a Financial Affidavit. This document lists financial information, including debts, assets, income, and expenses. Both parties must disclose an honest accounting of their finances, even if they’re not questioned specifically about a certain item (such as stock options or a retirement fund). Signing this document is akin to swearing an oath in court and lies/omissions will be considered perjury if discovered.   

How assets are commonly hidden

Additionally, there are a number of ways assets can be hidden. Some spouses claim exorbitant amounts of debt to diminish their assets and income. Others may claim that their income is substantially lower than it actually is, which would mean that their ex-partner would receive lower than normal custody/alimony payments. Altering the value of reported assets is also common, such as by saying that a piece of property is actually valued at a lower price than it really is worth.

Consequences of hiding assets

No matter what type of tactics are used, there are serious consequences for willfully hiding assets or changing their value. While penalties can vary, a court may order the person found guilty of hiding assets to cover the other party’s legal costs. Your ex may also be obligated to give up all or a portion of the assets hidden (which usually relies on the discretion of the judge). For more serious cases, jail time could be handed down, as perjury is considered a significant offense. If you suspect your ex is hiding assets, hiring reliable legal counsel is the next step.

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