One of the earliest steps in a divorce is the disclosure of your assets. You and your spouse have to provide an inventory of your property and debts to one another and possibly to the court so that you can settle your property division issues.
Unfortunately, some people will intentionally lie on their property disclosure paperwork. They will intentionally hide or undervalue assets. They make completely omit belongings or accounts from the list or may apply inappropriately low values to them in the hopes of hiding how much things are really worth.
What happens when your spouse hides assets from you and the courts?
You don’t find it, you will take a loss
The biggest risk to you when someone hides assets in a divorce is that you won’t figure it out before you go to court. You might agree to a settlement outside of court or approve a court order regarding property division that doesn’t honestly reflect your marital assets.
If you agree to a settlement made without full knowledge of the marital assets, you might accept far less than what you really deserve from the marital estate. Sometimes, if you later discover documentation proves that your ex hid assets, you could use that to ask the courts to revisit your property division decree.
Your ex could face penalties from the courts
There is a famous case out of California where a woman won the lottery, didn’t tell her husband and then filed for divorce.
They settled everything and finalize the divorce, only to have him later discover her secret lottery winnings. He went back to court, and the judge determined that her conduct was malicious. In the end, the husband received the entire balance of the lottery winnings because the wife hid them from him.
If you can prove that your spouse has engaged in financial misconduct by hiding assets, you can likely have the court penalize your ex. While it may not be as dramatic as awarding you everything, it can likely make up for the stress and inconvenience you endured. Understanding what might happen when your spouse hide assets in your divorce can help you take the right steps to protect