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What happens if your spouse hides assets during divorce?

Even if your divorce case seems simple at the outset, it can easily get very complicated in a very short period of time. One possible reason for this sudden complication is when one or both spouses are not completely truthful about their assets and their individual financial situation.

Although it is illegal and highly unethical, hiding assets during a divorce is a surprisingly common occurrence. According to recent data, nearly one-third of adults that combine assets with a partner or spouse admit that they have lied about money. Nearly 60 percent admitted to hiding cash from their partner or spouse, and 30 percent admitted to hiding a bill or statement. As such, it follows that couples would be as inclined, if not more so, to hide money and other assets in divorce, when they are concerned about their financial future after the split.

Asset-hiding generally occurs when one spouse, in an attempt to keep a greater portion of the marital property, does not disclose one or more assets to the court. However, when filing divorce documents with the court, each spouse will sign a statement stating that the information provided in that document is true and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief. So what happens if that is later found to be false?

The consequences for hiding assets and lying about it vary from state to state. Common penalties range from an order to pay the non-lying spouse's attorney fees and court costs, to a dismissal of legal claims, and even to incarceration. In most situations, it will result in even more financial loss for the lying spouse than if he or she had simply been up front about the assets in the first place.

Source: Forbes, "What Are the Consequences of Hiding Assets During Divorce?" Jeff Landers, Nov. 14, 2012

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