Divorce is difficult for anyone who’s going through one, but some don’t handle it as well as others. It’s understandable if a divorce doesn’t bring out the best in someone, but both parties should at least conduct themselves honestly and with respect for the process.
One of the ways someone might engage in dishonest conduct during a divorce is by hiding or failing to disclose assets. There are several reasons why someone might do this, such as wanting to get more out of the divorce or wanting to financially harm their ex.
The problem with concealing assets during a divorce is that it’s illegal. When a divorce begins, both spouses must comply with mandatory disclosure requirements. These requirements compel spouses to exchange financial information, such as bank statements, pay stubs, deeds, tax returns, and more. Spouses are also required to file a financial affidavit, which under the penalty of perjury attests to details such as a spouse’s assets, debts, income, and expenses.
All of this is to say that hiding assets during a divorce is a considerable problem and can lead to important legal consequences. If you have concerns about hidden assets in your divorce, keep reading and consult with an attorney for professional legal assistance.
Signs That Your Spouse May Be Hiding Assets
People who hide assets from their divorce don’t always make a clean getaway. Lawyers and accountants who are experienced in uncovering hidden assets can use a variety of sophisticated techniques to do so, but there are signs that you may notice once you know what to look for.
Your Spouse Is Secretive About Your Finances
During marriage – and while your divorce is ongoing – you have a right to know what’s going on with your finances. While one spouse may manage the marriage’s finances, they can’t keep anything a secret from their spouse during a divorce.
If your spouse refuses to talk about your finances or fails to give you satisfactory answers to simple questions about your financial status, these are big red flags. If you find yourself locked out of online bank accounts or stop getting paper bank statements in the mail that you were accustomed to receiving, these can also be signs that your spouse is trying to keep you in the dark about financial matters.
There Are Strange Transactions from Your Accounts
A more alarming sign that your spouse may be hiding assets is when you notice strange transactions from your bank accounts – particularly withdrawals. If money starts disappearing from any of your accounts and you have no idea where it went, this is a big red flag that your spouse may be up to some shady business.
Your Spouse Is Giving Friends or Family ‘Gifts’ or ‘Loans’
One common way that people try to hide assets from their divorce is by giving their friends and relatives “loans” or “gifts.” The idea is to remove cash from the marriage’s bank accounts by giving it to others to hold until after the divorce is finalized. It’s also possible that no friends are relatives are actually involved, and the giving of gifts or loans is just a cover story for funneling cash elsewhere.
Your Spouse’s Income Has Suddenly Dipped
If your spouse is self-employed, their income may fluctuate for a number of reasons. If it suddenly takes a dive after you start talking about divorce or begin the process, however, this can be a sign that your spouse may be hiding a portion of their earnings, commissions, or bonuses elsewhere. If your spouse earns a salary, they may even attempt to defer payment until after the divorce is finalized.
Make no mistake: Whatever your spouse earns during your marriage belongs to the marriage and is subject to division during divorce. Attempts to move income elsewhere or defer payment to a later date are not permitted.
Items of Value Are Missing
Your spouse may also attempt to hide assets by literally hiding high-value property, such as jewelry, collectibles, art, or other such items. Even if certain items would belong to your spouse as their separate property, they must still disclose their existence to comply with the financial disclosure rules prior to property division.
What Happens If Hidden Assets Are Discovered?
If it’s revealed that a spouse attempted to hide assets from the divorce, several legal consequences can follow. For one, they may be criminally charged with perjury for lying on a financial affidavit or be held in contempt of court. Perjury is a third-degree felony in Florida, so a conviction can be punished with up to five years in prison or probation. Contempt of court is a misdemeanor but can be punished with up to a year in jail.
Relevant to the divorce itself, the court might award a larger portion of marital property to the spouse from whom the other spouse attempted to hide assets. The spouse who hid assets may also be held liable for legal fees and expenses related to the investigation of hidden assets.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets
If you are concerned that your spouse may be hiding assets from your divorce for any reason, talk to your attorney about your concerns. If there are red flags that your spouse may be hiding assets, your attorney can investigate the matter or hire a forensic accountant to conduct a more thorough investigation.
Have concerns about hidden assets? You can discuss this issue with an attorney from Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. Our lawyers are trained divorce advocates who help our clients fight for equitable outcomes in divorce, which can include helping them deal with concerns related to hidden assets.
For more information, request a consultation with us today. Get in touch now when you contact Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. online.