Some spouses do not want to let go of their prized collectibles or the family boat. And they are willing to risk criminal charges to protect belongings from their partner. But what implications does that have during a divorce proceeding?
Hiding assets is a massive problem across the United States, and many states use severe punishments to prevent spouses from concealing property or finances away during a separation.
Why is hiding assets so problematic?
Most states have strict penalties against hiding property during a divorce especially in community property states, like Texas. The court divides all marital property (assets retained during the marriage) fairly between the spouses.
If you try to hide assets, the court typically finds the missing property and awards the fair share to the other spouse. The state may also charge a spouse with fraud on the community, which means they mislead the court and their partner about the real value of the assets.
The judge determines the value of the hidden assets without the fraudulent behavior and divides the amount between the two spouses. However, they may also include additional fees or award a money judgment in favor of the honest spouse. It’s entirely up to the court to decide how the hidden assets play into property division.
How do you know if a spouse is hiding assets?
In most relationships, one spouse handles the “bookkeeping” for the finances, including mortgages, credit cards, investments, etc. They may use that power to take advantage of their partner during a divorce.
A spouse may try to hide assets or the real value of specific pieces. Either way, they try to keep the finances of your marriage under wraps. Luckily, there are ways to know if assets are missing:
- Make a complete list of your assets – list every single item or bank account involved in your marriage and include the values to submit to the court. It may help you spot any missing assets during discovery.
- Demand any significant financial documents – if your partner is hiding assets, they may refuse to give you all the documentation. You can make a public request in court and search for any suspicious property.
- Ask for an inspection – you can also submit for an examination of the property to find safety deposit boxes, lockers or any areas where a spouse may hide property.
If you work through the discovery process with an attorney, you will probably find any missing assets. It also strengthens your arguments in court about what your fair share of the property is.