The division of marital assets is a necessary part of the divorce process. For spouses who already have negative feelings toward each other, agreeing on how to distribute homes, vehicles, valuables, and other assets may seem next to impossible. Certain spouses may hide assets to prevent sharing them with an ex-spouse. What they may not know is the penalties for deflating or hiding assets can be severe.
Common Ways of Hiding Assets
Assets can be hidden different ways to prevent distribution during divorce. When it comes to real estate, a spouse may sign the deed to their vacation home or investment property over to a friend or loved one. Money resting in back accounts may be withdrawn and transferred to an account in another individual’s name. They may also give jewelry, art, and other physical valuables to someone else to hold onto until the divorce is final.
A spouse may also deflate or devalue certain assets to give their ex-spouse a smaller portion of money or property. One of the most common ways of deflating their assets is deflating income. If the spouse is self-employed, they can simply give themselves a smaller paycheck. In some cases, an employer conspires with the spouse, claiming they worked less or were demoted, resulting in reduced wages to show less income. The ex-spouse may also contribute more into their retirement account each paycheck, so they bring less money home. Because child support and alimony are determined based on income, making less money on paper is beneficial for the spouse who pays.
Finding Missing Assets During Divorce
During a divorce, spouses who had little to no involvement in the family finances throughout the marriage are at a disadvantage. For them, unraveling the overall financial picture of the marriage can be overwhelming and intimidating. Fortunately, divorce lawyers are available to lead the discovery process and gather all the essential financial information needed to facilitate the distribution of assets.
When one spouse is unwilling to cooperate in providing records regarding bank accounts, mortgages, and retirement funds, a skilled divorce attorney obtains them through legal means, including notice to produce and subpoena. Spouses are sometimes required to give testimony under oath, answering questions posted by their spouse’s attorney.
Penalties for Hiding Assets During Divorce
Anyone considering hiding assets from their spouse should reconsider. There are strict penalties for those who try to prevent their ex-spouse from accessing joint assets. Potential financial sanctions include requiring the hiding spouse to relinquish their share of a marital asset or paying an ex-spouse back the equivalent amount of the hidden assets. Jail time is a possibility for spouses who continue to hide assets after the court has been made aware of their behavior.
Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Locate Hidden Assets in Divorce Proceedings
While your spouse may disagree, you are entitled to your share of the marital assets under the law. To ensure you have the complete financial picture of your marriage, contact the skilled Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. We explore every avenue and legal means to locate hidden assets and get what is rightfully yours when the marriage ends. Call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Somerville, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.