Consequences of Hiding Assets During a Divorce

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.

Damages Credibility

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.

Property Division and Divorce in Ohio

When it comes to divorce, every state’s laws regarding asset division are a little bit different. Property and assets are divided under what is either community property laws or marital property laws. Community property classifies property acquired by either spouse or both during the period of marriage to be jointly owned, with the same amount of interest between them. While the couple retains separate interest in the assets or property they held prior to the marriage, a court will view property acquired during marriage as a 50/50 division. Laws surrounding community property are following in nine states, including Arizona, California, Texas, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The other 41 states follow the laws of marital property, including Ohio. When dividing assets, an Ohio court would find that the assets are to be equally distributed, unless distribution would be inequitable. However, many states that follow marital property laws allow for a fair distribution, which may not always be completely equal, like those in community property states. Marital property is also real or personal property currently owned by a spouse or acquired during the marriage, as well as any income or appreciation made on property that was separately owned by one spouse, or any interest either have in personal property, as well as retirement and compensation benefit packages.

but separate property can be included when determining property division in some cases. Some examples of separate property are any inheritance or gift incurred by a spouse during the marriage, property acquired before the marriage, any property outlined in a prenuptial agreement as non-includable, property bought after a legal separation has been entered into court, as well as any passive income or appreciation on separate property throughout the marriage. Separate property can be considered marital when, after researching, cannot be separated on its face from marital property due to commingling of funds or interest. Ohio views professional degrees and licenses as separate asset not subject to division.

Divorce Question? Call Us Today!

Dividing assets can be a complicated process for both spouses. We want to make sure you get what you are entitled to under Ohio laws of marital property. If you or someone you know is struggling to divide their assets or property in their divorce, we can help. Do not hesitate to call the legal team at Lawrence Law Office today at (614) 228 – 3664 for a consultation or email us using our website or lawrence@lawrencelawoffice.com.

How Marital Property is Divided

For property to be fairly divided, the court must look at a number of different factors and make a determination on a case-by-case basis. Once a court makes a determination of what property is separate property and what is marital, then it must divide up the marital property based on state law. In Ohio, the court will divide the property based on what is fair, which may not always be equal to both spouses, according to the laws of community property states. The court will determine whether there needs to be a distributive award, meaning one spouse pays the other for the value of the asset or property, or whether an equitable division would be possible.

Many assets are relatively easy to evaluate to determine their worth, but for those assets that are unique, have sentimental value, or have been passed down over time to an individual, determining their value might be more difficult. If a couple has assets that are unique, they can seek the assistance of a qualified expert to determine the value. A qualified expert will evaluate the asset and give an estimated worth to the court to divide. Other assets such as pensions or ownership interest may need the assistance of a financial expert who can assess the history and provide a value.

When dividing the property, the court assesses factors such as the liabilities and debts of the spouses as well as their assets and entitlements, whether either spouse seeks to stay in the home as well as how easy it will be to sell depending on the market and what their estimated compensation may be, the cost of a sale as well as any property division voluntarily made in separation agreements. Additionally, the court will determine any significant financial misconduct impacting the couple, as well as significant losses resulting from gambling, illegal drug use, infidelity, or failure to disclose an asset during the divorce proceeding. It is also important to note that Ohio does not consider assets owned before the marriage, gifts made to one spouse, inheritance, or personal injury proceeds as includable in marital property.

Going Through a Divorce?

We want to make sure property division is fair and equitable for you and that you are able to get what you deserve. If you or someone you know is struggling to divide their assets or property in their divorce, we can help. Do not hesitate to call the legal team at Lawrence Law Office today at (614) 228 – 3664 for a consultation or email us using our website or lawrence@lawrencelawoffice.com. Dividing property does not have to be a painful process with us.

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