When you consider that one of the major causes behind divorces is a breakdown of trust, it’s no surprise that many people have concerns that their spouse may be hiding assets during the divorce process.
If you suspect this is happening, it’s important to know that hiding assets is a serious violation and can result in significant consequences, potentially even jail time. If you think your spouse is hiding assets, contact our firm. An attorney can help you take steps to uncover if your spouse is really hiding assets and what you can do to protect yourself.
What To Do When You Are Suspicious of a Spouse Hiding Assets
There are a number of different ways that assets can be hidden, which means the process of finding hidden assets can be quite involved and require research into many different areas. To uncover any possible hidden assets, you need to first get a picture of what you do know. You will want to collect records of what you have and get as much detail about the financial situation as you can.
Some of the important things to gather include:
- Any income sources, such as pay stubs and other sources of cash flow
- Any assets and liabilities
- Prior tax returns
- Credit card statements
- Loan applications
- Property owned by both spouses
- Gifts or inheritance
- Any other important financial documentation
At that point, you will want to look for and pay attention to anything that could indicate an attempt to hide assets. This could include some kind of shift in spending patterns, such as changing how much is going to bills. It’s also good to look for anything that has slowly been paid out in smaller sums over a long period. It’s important to realize there are a seemingly unending number of ways that a person can use to hide assets. Some of these include:
- Claiming to receive a lower income than was actually paid
- Overpaying on tax bills
- Using a personal business to create false expenses
- Overstating outstanding debts and previous debt payments
- Deferring income until after the divorce is finalized
- Creating a financial account in a child’s name
- Buying expensive gifts
- Using a personal safe or safe deposit box in a bank to hide cash
- Phony loans to friends or family members
If you want to have the most thorough investigation of how your spouse may be hiding assets, then you can benefit from working with an experienced divorce lawyer. When you work with a lawyer, you can rely on their experience. In many cases, they’ve seen a variety of methods used to hide assets.
They may notice irregularities that could be a sign of someone trying to hide their assets, and they also understand what legal procedures can be used to uncover how assets may be hidden.
Q: What Are the Penalties for a Spouse Hiding Assets in a California Divorce?
A: Hiding assets is a serious issue, is illegal, and can result in some pretty stiff consequences. Some of these could include:
- Criminal charges of perjury or fraud, which could potentially result in years of jail time
- Payment for the cost of investigators or other means of discovering the hidden assets
- More of the property going to the other spouse
- Voiding any prenup or postnup
- Loss of credibility in court, which could impact other requests
Q: How Are Assets Divided in a California Divorce?
A: The basic process of property division in California begins with dividing property into community property and separate property. In the divorce, only the community property will be divided, while the separate property will remain with whomever it belongs to. The principle for how property should be divided in California is known as equitable division.
This begins with the assumption that a 50/50 split is a fair starting point for how the property will be divided, but it does not mean that the final outcome will be equal. Instead, several different factors will go into deciding how the property will be split. The end goal is that the division is fair and equitable. Hiding assets is a factor that may be considered in this decision and could negatively impact the spouse who was doing so.
Q: What Is Considered Community Property in California?
A: In short, community property is more or less everything that isn’t separate property. This generally means all shared assets, such as bank accounts, investment or retirement accounts, earnings, real estate, and other property that was acquired during the marriage.
It’s worth noting that it is not just the assets that are considered community property but also liabilities or debts. These are categorized along the same lines as the assets and are also subject to equitable distribution in the divorce process.
Q: What Financial Information Is Required To Be Disclosed in a California Divorce?
A: One of the more important aspects of a divorce is the discovery process. It ensures both parties have a full and fair assessment of the situation as they prepare for the divorce process. A major component of this is the financial disclosure element. Under this component, both parties are required to disclose all liabilities, assets, and any other relevant financial information. Failing to do this could be considered hiding assets and be subject to serious consequences.
Khalaf Law Group Can Help Uncover Hidden Assets and Seek Fair Property Division
One of the most important ways to ensure you are being given a full picture of the financial situation of your spouse through the divorce process is by working with a divorce lawyer. As much as you may be told how to look for those hidden assets, nothing can beat the experience of a lawyer who has seen all sorts of methods for hiding assets before.
We also have a strong understanding of how to use the tools of discovery and legal processes available to help uncover if your spouse is hiding assets. If you are concerned that this is happening in your divorce or may happen in an impending divorce, contact us at Khalaf Law Group.