Dividing assets is one of the most complicated aspects of the divorce process. No matter how amicable a couple plans to be at the beginning of their separation, the idea of sharing property and money can bring out the worst in the best of people. Though most adults depend on their attorneys to handle these negotiations, it is not unusual for one spouse to decide to take matters into his or her own hands. Even when warned about the potential consequences of hiding assets, a person who resents his or her spouse, or who feels he or she cannot afford a fair division may still attempt to conceal property or money. It is important to understand the consequences of attempting to hide assets during a divorce.
One of the worst consequences of attempting to hide assets is the loss of credibility. Divorce attorneys are aware of methods used to hide assets and are skilled at discovering any marital property that was previously undisclosed. Once your efforts to conceal property are discovered, they will be exposed to the judge hearing your case. After being caught hiding property, all future statements made regarding your financial status or needs will be scrutinized. For the remainder of your case, the judge will view you as a villain and your spouse’s attorney will constantly remind the judge of your past indiscretion and dishonesty.
Negatively Affects All Financial Areas of Your Case
In addition to damaging your credibility, an attempt to hide assets will negatively impact all finance-related negotiations in the future. Once you have lied under oath or in a sworn statement about your assets, a judge is less likely to believe you if you say that you cannot afford to pay a certain alimony amount. Also, if you and your spouse are disputing what you each contributed toward the marital property, the judge is more likely to believe the person who has not already told a lie. After trying to hide assets, it will be implied or assumed that every statement you make about your income or property is false.
Civil and Criminal Penalties
There are several penalties that a judge can impose on you if you are caught attempting to hide assets during a divorce. A person who purposefully makes a false statement under oath can be charged with perjury, which is a third degree felony in the state of Ohio. Depending on the situation, a person who lies about their assets during a divorce may face additional criminal charges for contempt of court. Contempt of court and perjury could both lead to incarceration. Other penalties include making the guilty party pay for the spouse’s attorneys fees or awarding the guilty spouse a smaller share of the marital assets than he or she otherwise would have received.
Contact an Attorney
During a contentious divorce, a person under considerable stress may make a bad decision that could impact the entire process. If you are accused of hiding assets, or suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, you should contact a qualified divorce attorney immediately. The attorneys at The Lawrence Law Office understand how stressful and difficult dividing assets during a divorce often is. Our attorneys can discuss your available options and help you prepare for future hearings. Contact us today at 614-228-3664 to schedule a consultation at our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio office.