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Consequences of hiding assets during divorce

by | Dec 18, 2015 | Firm News, High Asset Divorce |

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 31 percent of adults in the U.S. who have combined their financial resources and assets with a spouse admit that they have withheld information or been deceptive about their finances with their spouse. Women are 18 percent more likely than men to discover that their spouse has been hiding money. Although the practice may be commonplace in marital settings, it is illegal in Florida for either spouse to attempt to hide any assets during divorce proceedings.

After the initial documents are filed to begin a divorce, both parties are required by law to disclose all assets, debts, expenses and income. Assets include potentially minor property like household goods, as well as employer stock options and real property. Both parites sign a written statement swearing that the information they provided is true and complete, and it has the same effect it would have if they had been sworn in under oath before a judge.

According to Forbes, should either party willfully fail to disclose any asset, the offending party may be subject to severe consequences. The judge overseeing the matter must use his or her discretion in deciding the penalties for this omission. Possible consequences include an order to pay all attorney fees and costs, a dismissal of the party’s claims, complete or partial allocation of the undisclosed assets to the other spouse, or even incarceration. When assets are hidden deliberately with an intent to defraud spouses and the courts, judges are much more likely to enforce stiff penalties than if an asset was merely overlooked.