While divorce proceedings have the potential for disputes, disagreements, and legal challenges in multiple areas, matters involving the division of assets and debts (or property division) often introduce the greatest risks when it comes to potential conflict. That’s due largely to the fact that property division deals directly with the financial well-being of spouses, and because any determinations reached through agreements or court order can impact the future of spouses for years to come.
At Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC, our Boca Raton divorce lawyers draw from over 75 years of collective experience to help clients protect what matters most to them, particularly in matters of correctly evaluating divisible property, valuing assets and debts, and pursuing their fair share. Although every case is different, this objective can be made increasingly difficult when certain issues are involving, including the risk of a spouse hiding or concealing assets that would otherwise be subject to division under Florida Law.
Below, our legal team discusses a few key points worth knowing about hidden assets, how they may play a role in divorce cases, and the steps you can take when you suspect a spouse is concealing property, or when allegations have been made against you.
- Concealing assets in divorce is never a good idea – One of the most important things to understand is that hiding assets in divorce is never, ever a good idea. Whether it’s hiding assets, relocating them, or not fully disclosing property and debs, such conduct can have serious consequences should it be discovered. That’s because hiding assets can substantially harm credibility in a divorce case, subjecting a person to increased scrutiny and potentially adverse outcomes that pose financial consequences, including outcomes in property division and support matters. In some cases, hiding assets can also pose potential civil or criminal penalties, such as contempt of court or even perjury. In short, it should never be done, and steps should be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen even accidentally.
- How people hide assets – Spouses in divorce have been known to hide or conceal assets in a number of ways. This can be as simple as relocating assets, such as by giving property or money to a friend or relative for safekeeping during a divorce, moving assets oversees, or creating digital currency. In some cases, the trail of concealment can be a bit more complex, and involving underreporting of income and assets, the use of digital currency, and other complex financial forms of concealment.
- Certain factors could make it easier to hide assets – Hidden assets can be a risk in any case, though it doesn’t always mean a spouse will always actively attempt to conceal property. However, there are certain factors that when present in a case, could make it easier or more likely for assets to be concealed or overlooked. This is especially true when a spouse owns a business or is self-employed, as they have greater opportunity to capitalize on their unusual financial situation to misrepresent or underreport their income, defer certain debts or expenses, or take other measures to unfairly protect their own financial interests or influence an outcome in their favor. There may also be a greater likelihood for asset concealment in cases involving high asset divorce.
- You have options if you suspect hidden assets – If you suspect that a spouse may be relocating or hiding assets in your divorce, you have legal rights and options. This includes working with a skilled attorney who can help you navigate the legal procedures that can help you uncover and address asset concealment, from financial investigations that may utilize experts or forensic accounting to trade funds to legal procedures involving discover and deposition in which your spouse can be questioned under oath. Additionally, spouses who face accusations of hidden assets have rights and options for defending themselves against such claims, and can also work with legal representation to make the most of their opportunities.
- Even after divorce, you have options – Even if a spouse escapes discovery and liability in a divorce case where they did in fact hide assets, ex-spouses who discover the concealment after a divorce has been finalized also have options available. This is because many divorce agreements contain clauses that require a full disclosure of assets, which could potentially result in penalties against the spouse who hid them. Civil legal action can allow an ex-spouse to seek a recovery of their money, and potential punitive damages against a former spouse for hiding assets during the divorce process.
Property division is a major facet of the divorce process, and stakes can be raised when there are financial issues that suggest asset concealing has happened or may occur. Fortunately, a skilled attorney can help. At Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC, our legal team has the experience, resources, and professional connections to help clients facing such issues – either as spouses who suspect the other is hiding assets or spouses who are unjustly accused – protect their rights and interests during all phases of seeking resolution.
To speak with a Boca Raton divorce attorney from our firm about your case and rights, contact us today. We’re available to help clients throughout Boca Raton and the surrounding areas of Florida!