What Happens if My Ex Hides Assets During our Florida Divorce?
It’s no secret that many divorces are contentious, but some spouses make the entire process worse. Some unscrupulous people attempt to hide assets from their spouse in hopes they won’t be subject to distribution during the divorce. This is not only illegal, but it can result in serious consequences.
How to Uncover Hidden Assets
In some cases, you may find evidence in your own home that your spouse has been hiding assets. Since their mail has been coming to the home, there could be important information hidden away in a desk drawer or somewhere. This is the first place to start as you may be in possession of information and documentation that can help your Florida divorce attorney.
Your attorney will usually start by sending a demand to produce financial documents and records to your spouse. However, your ex may just ignore the request which courts anticipate. Your attorney has the authority to subpoena records from domestic banks. They can also subpoena your ex’s employment records, which can show whether he or she is transferring money directly from their paycheck to a separate account.
Other tools of discovery include depositions and written interrogatories that require them to disclose all their financial information.
Additional important documents include tax returns, loan applications, credit card accounts, etc. If there is evidence your spouse is hiding assets, your attorney will demand he or she turn over the information to the court. In limited cases, your attorney may request permission to hire an expert who can help uncover details to uncover where your spouse is hiding assets.
Legal Consequences of Hiding Assets
Some of the legal consequences of hiding assets during a divorce can include:
- Being Held in Contempt of Court: The court can hold the spouse in contempt if they behave in a manner that defies its authority. If someone is held in civil contempt, it is a serious matter that can result in sanctions, including a fine and/or jail time.
- Reallocation of Assets: A judge may opt to punish the offending spouse by reallocating assets. Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means assets are not divided 50/50. Equitable distribution means the court has the authority to divide assets and liabilities in different percentages, provided they feel it is justified. Each spouse can present evidence showing why they deserve a larger share of the marital property. If the other spouse can show his or her ex tried to hide assets, it could ultimately cost the offender a lot of money. He or she may even be on the hook for your private investigator and/or legal fees.
- Charged with a Crime: If a spouse lies under oath about assets, this is considered perjury. Perjury is when you knowingly make a false statement under oath during an official proceeding. Perjury carries criminal charges, and the offending spouse might also be charged with fraud if there was a material misrepresentation of facts while attempting to hide marital assets.
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