Three Dangers of Not Disclosing Assets in a Divorce

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Just about everyone facing a divorce will at some point at least consider hiding assets. It is human nature to worry about losing all of your hard-earned income and assets, especially if you are going to be turning them over to someone toward whom you may feel a lot of hostility and negative emotions. At Five Points Law Group, our experienced attorneys frequently get involved in divorces after someone has made critical errors early in their divorce. Here are three simple reasons for never hiding your assets and income in a divorce.

It can be Criminal

Yes. You read that right. Lying about your financial assets in a divorce can potentially be treated as a form of perjury. This can be a felony in Alabama. Perhaps fortunately, most divorce court judges are reluctant to exercise their right to levy criminal contempt citations against individuals appearing in family court. Judges know it is a difficult and emotional process, and they know that people will make poor decisions out of a fear of “losing” their children or due to the emotional backlash from infidelity or years of fighting. However, if you knowingly and intentionally conceal assets and the court finds out, you could definitely face criminal penalties for lying to the court.

It Will Affect the Outcome of Your Case

Although family court judges probably should not consider your honesty and candor when dividing your marital estate, they often do. Say for instance that you disclose your salary and assets but leave out that you receive an occasional small bonus here and there. This will probably just get added into your financial disclosures for calculating things like child support, alimony, and property distribution. However, if you fail to disclose that you have a substantial out-of-state investment property, a business interest, a valuable investment, or some other thing of value, do not be surprised if the court takes harsh actions to penalize you for it, such as making a disproportionate ruling.

It Will Delay the Inevitable

Ultimately, beyond the potential civil and criminal consequences of lying, the fact is you will just delay the inevitable. Your divorce will be dragged out and take longer, as the judge will now be scrutinizing everything you file, and your spouse’s attorney will be looking for more hidden assets and income. Likewise, this will make your divorce more costly, and it will mean waiting longer to finalize your divorce. In the end, hidden assets and income are almost always located, and your deceit will have done nothing to help you.

The Right Way to Disclose Assets

There are wrong and right ways to disclose assets in a divorce. Those who disclose without an attorney often disclose exempt items in the wrong way and end up over-paying for child support and alimony. Or, they may include family heirlooms that could otherwise be exempted as a personal asset. Therefore, it is always best to discuss your unique situation with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the maze of rules and regulations that apply to financial disclosures in a divorce. For help with your Birmingham divorce, call Five Points Law Group today.

Heather Fann
Heather Fann
Heather's practice seeks to preserve the dignity of clients through healthy paths for their changing families, employing both modern and traditional means of resolution including collaborative practice and methods such as use of Parenting Coordinators, as well as mediation, though she stands ready to litigate where necessary.

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