Consequences of Hiding Assets in Divorce
When you go through a divorce, you lose a measure of privacy. Your finances become a matter of disclosure to the court, informing decisions and settlements concerning the division of property, spousal support, child support, insurance policies, and other issues. For the system to work properly, parties to a divorce must disclose all of their assets and interests fully and transparently. Parties who try to hide assets in order to protect them from distribution, raise their share in other jointly-owned assets, or reduce support obligations, are likely to face severe consequences if discovered. Below, we discuss some of the consequences of hiding assets in a California divorce. If you are going through a divorce and suspect your spouse of hiding assets, or if you have other questions concerning California family law, reach out to a seasoned California divorce attorney at Blasser Law.
Representations During Divorce
Hiding assets during a divorce is surprisingly common, despite how deplorable it may sound. Doing so comes at a cost. When you proceed through your divorce, you will be required to sign a financial affidavit. The document outlines your joint assets so that they can be divided fairly among the parties. When you sign the affidavit, you are swearing to the court that the document is true to the best of your knowledge. Lying on the document is tantamount to testifying falsely while under oath–essentially, you are committing perjury.
Ramifications of Hiding Assets
If a party hides assets during the divorce and the hidden assets are uncovered, they will undoubtedly become a part of the divorce proceeding. Falsely filling out a financial affidavit is like lying to the court, and the judge has the power to hold the party in contempt of court. Contempt can yield severe financial penalties and even jail time. The judge may order that party to pay all the legal fees and court costs of the other party or issue other relevant sanctions. The court may set an example for the fraudulent and malicious conduct and award the other party a raised share of the hidden assets or other community property.
In a now-famous example from a few years ago, a woman won $1.3 million in the lottery just 11 days before she filed for divorce. She intentionally omitted the lottery winnings from her financial statement, and she was discovered. To penalize her, the court ordered that all of her lottery winnings would go to her husband.
Moreover, falsely testifying under oath is criminal perjury. Although rare, a prosecutor could technically pursue perjury charges against a party who lies about assets in a divorce. In California, perjury is a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.
Get Sound Advice and Professional Assistance With Your California Divorce
If you are facing divorce or need assistance with other family law issues in Los Angeles and Southern California, contact a divorce and family law attorney at the Claremont offices of Blasser Law at 909-483-6363.