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What Are the Penalties for Hiding Assets in a Divorce?

When you file for divorce, one of the first big tasks you’ll need to tackle is the financial affidavit. The financial affidavit is a legal document that each spouse presents to the court before they begin their divorce. This document is legally binding, and, whether you file for a contested or uncontested divorce, it must be presented in full with no financial documents or assets omitted. If you or your spouse should leave out any assets, either intentionally or accidentally, the repercussions could be severe.

Sometimes individuals may try to hide certain assets from their spouse and from the court in order to avoid having it taken away or divided during the property division. However, this is, quite simply, against the law.

If you believe your spouse is trying to hide assets from you during the divorce, learn the warning signs and find out what penalties they could suffer if caught.

Why Disclose All Assets?

The courts require each spouse to list all financial investments, debts, assets, funds, properties, and other properties of value in order to give the court an idea of what assets they’re dealing with. One of the biggest issues in any divorce is the property division, and to make the division as fair as possible, the court needs to know what assets you owned as a couple and as individuals. With an accurate financial portfolio, the judge can then determine what assets are at play.

Potential Errors

While it might not seem like a big deal, and omissions or mistakes on the financial affidavit, whether intentional or accidental, could lead to serious consequences. You might make a simple mistake, forgetting about a certain account or listing the wrong amount of student debt. Whatever the reason or the outcome, it is important that you make a revision to the original document as soon as you realize your mistake.

Alternatively, your spouse may have intentionally hidden things from you and the court in order to keep those properties or assets for himself/herself. If you notice any assets missing from their financial document, tell your attorney of your suspicions. There are accountants and investigators out there who specialize in identifying and locating hidden divorce assets, and can do the necessary digging to ascertain whether or not any foul play was involved. If they are not discovered, their lies could lead to an imbalance in property division, potentially providing you with fewer assets than you are entitled to.

The Penalty for Errors or Lies

The financial affidavit is a legal document presented to judge in a court of law, which means lying on that document is seen as a form of lying in court. Lying before the court is against the law and can have serious repercussions for the guilty party. The penalties for lying on your financial affidavit can vary greatly depending on the severity of the omission, the court, and the circumstances. In some situations, the guilty party may get away with only a stern reprimand. However, the judge may also find the lying party guilty of perjury, which is a criminal offense. Perjury charges can result in hefty fines and even jail time.

In other situations, the judge may simply punish the offending party by awarding those omitted assets to the other spouse. Whatever the outcome, it is not favorable, which is why you should never lie on any documents presented to the court.

If you are going through a divorce and you suspect your spouse has lied on his or her financial documents, our firm can help. We can work with you to discover whether or not there are any hidden assets concealed by your spouse.

Contact The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, PLC to discuss your case with our Des Moines divorce lawyers.

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