The division of marital property is one of the more challenging and often heated parts of divorce proceedings that many divorce lawyers encounter when representing a client during a divorce.
Divorce attorneys find that property division is a prime cause of contested divorces; it is also a time when one spouse or another may decide to hide some assets while trying to retain others, especially in cases where there are high assets at stake.
It’s important to understand that you and your spouse are required to declare all assets which your respective lawyers will help divide between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
Failing to be totally honest can lengthen your divorce proceedings and could result in other problems as well.
Sworn Financial Listing and Inventory
After filing a petition to divorce, you and your spouse will be required to individually fill out and submit a financial listing and sworn inventory of assets to your divorce lawyers.
Of course, both of you must be truthful about disclosing the property you own so that it can be considered during divorce proceedings and allow for a "just and right" division of such property to include both assets and debts.
This statement and list must include everything from personal and marital belongings and owned properties to income, investments, retirement funds, and other financial accounts.
Credit card and other debt should also be documented as well as taxes owed or refunds expected, children’s trusts, estate assets, and any other property owned by you and/or your spouse and given to your divorce attorney.
Penalties For Lying About or Hiding Assets
The purpose of declaring all assets within your marriage is so that you, representing divorce lawyers, and mediators can arrive at a reasonable agreement on dividing everything based on your specific divorce situation.
As such, hiding assets or lying about their worth is a serious offense and could result in legal consequences for you.
Contempt of Court
If either of you fails to disclose assets and this is discovered, a court order to disclose all financial and asset information for that spouse will be issued by the family court.
The spouse accused of falsifying financial information with his or her lawyer will need to prepare such information and officially present it to the other spouse and his or her attorney so the property in question can be considered and divided as well.
Continued concealment can result in being held in contempt of the family court and could result in legal ramifications.
If your divorce is granted and it is later discovered that you or your spouse have hidden assets to exclude them from the property division, this is grounds for a post-divorce lawsuit.
The discovering spouse and his or her divorce lawyer may file a suit against the accused spouse to have that newly discovered property divided as well.
Honesty Is Essential in Divorce
As much as you may not want to share all of your assets with your spouse and vice versa as your marriage ends, divorce attorneys in many contested situations stress that doing so is a legal part of the divorce proceeding that could lead to serious consequences if ignored.
The easiest way to deal with it is to be honest, declare all assets that must be disclosed, and work with your lawyer to come up with a just and right agreement on the division of marital property.
As divorce lawyers, we advise our clients that failing to declare assets in a divorce will only complicate and lengthen the process and even worse, lead to additional legal concerns for those involved!