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Is it really a problem to hide assets during divorce?

During a divorce, particularly a contentious or bitter one, parties might feel motivated to engage in some unwise — and potentially unlawful — conduct. Some people do things to hurt their ex; others do things to protect themselves.

However, these efforts can ultimately backfire. For instance, if you (or your ex) attempts to hide money or assets during a divorce, it can cause a number of problems for everyone, including the person hiding property.

Financial and legal penalties

A person who lies on court documents, like a financial affidavit in a divorce, can face a range of serious penalties. For instance, if a person fails to disclose stock ownership during divorce, upon reveal, a judge could award some or all of the asset to the other spouse. In other words, attempting to hide an asset can ultimately mean handing it over to an ex.

There could also be legal penalties for lying under oath. This is perjury, and it is possible that a person could face criminal charges and jail time for the offense.

Trust issues

Concealing, undervaluing or otherwise misrepresenting assets during divorce is also an easy way to cause more contention and distrust. Suspicions of hidden assets could make mediation impossible, and adding this element of deceit to an already painful process can wind up affecting division of property, spousal support and even child custody agreements.

Utilization of resources

If a person is hiding assets, then it can take intensive investigation and sophisticated resources to uncover them. This takes time, money and energy, which are all things people try incredibly hard to preserve and protect during a divorce. As such, hiding assets can ultimately leave a person with even fewer resources than they started with.

Hiding assets during a divorce is unlawful and unwise. Unfortunately, it does happen. If you have concerns about your ex hiding assets, or if you want to pursue legitimate avenues to protect your financial future, then talking to an attorney can be wise. Without legal guidance, you could wind up making costly mistakes that affect you long after a divorce is final.