What Are the Consequences of Hiding Assets During a Divorce?
It is not unusual for high-net-worth divorce clients to attempt to hide some of their assets during a contentious divorce. After all, they worked for it, and it’s theirs. At least, that’s how they see it.
But the court doesn’t agree. So try and hide assets during a divorce, and the Florida courts may show you that there are things worse than divorce.
If you think you can outsmart the court, you may be punished by having to provide your ex-spouse with a more significant amount than they otherwise would otherwise receive.
It is wise to understand your family finances, assets, liabilities, property ownership, pensions, and investment if you are facing a Florida divorce. Review your spouse’s spending and look for any questionable spending, missing bank statements, or overseas trips.
Your Florida Family Law specialist, Crystal Collins Spencer, will be your greatest ally guiding you at this time.
Florida Divorce Laws
The law is clear in Florida and applies to both soon-to-be-ex spouses.
Under the state’s divorce laws, the court must distribute a couple’s assets equitably. That means the distribution will be fair, even if assets and liabilities are divided unequally. The spouse who stayed home and cared for the children contributed to the marriage substantially as did the spouse who went to the office to work outside the home.
If one spouse did not bring in an income, did not raise the children, and only spent money and accrued debt, the court will not look kindly at that contribution to the marriage.
It is generally advised that the couple develop their own distribution plan for assets, the home and cars, savings and investments, and pension plans. If they cannot, the court will impose a division, but it may not be to both parties’ liking.
During the negotiation phase, one spouse may introduce evidence that the other spouse is hiding assets that were accrued during the marriage or bought with money earned during the marriage.
There are many ways an offending spouse can try to improve his finances during a divorce.
They may undervalue property or income or overstate debts and expenses. It is essential that both spouses fully and honestly disclose their assets, and the court will order the offending spouse to disclose such assets. If they fail to do so, they could be held in contempt of court. Ultimately, they could be facing fines or jail time.
Things can get even more severe if the offending spouse lies under oath.
Criminal Perjury – They may make a false statement to the court while under oath in an attempt to hide assets. This is considered perjury. While hiding assets is not a criminal offense, committing perjury is a misdemeanor offense that can bring fines and up to one year in jail.
Contempt of Court – Additional criminal fraud charges may be levied on the spouse if they intentionally schemed to hide assets by making false statements to the court. The judge may declare the offending spouse is in contempt of court until the assets are revealed and turned over.
Reallocation of Assets – Instead of outsmarting the court, the offending spouse may find the tables turned on them. The judge can award more monies or property to the other spouse, even up to the amount the offending spouse tries to hide. They may also have to cover the other spouse’s legal fees spent in uncovering the hidden assets.
If you believe your spouse may be attempting to hide assets, you will want the help of experienced family lawyer Crystal Collins Spencer.
Your Florida Family Lawyer
Crystal Collins Spencer has seen these scenarios many times. Sometimes high-net-worth individuals believe the law doesn’t apply to them. They have been successful in other parts of their life and they may not be inclined to share in that success.
Ms. Spencer will issue requests for documents and discovery. She will dig deep to investigate any attempt to hide assets, and she will enlist the assistance of a forensic accountant and other experts when necessary.
Crystal Collins Spencer has offices in Pensacola, Ft. Walton, and Sandestin. Let her 35 years of experience work for you in a contested divorce. Arrange your first meeting by calling (850) 795-4910 or make an appointment online.