In a contentious divorce or a divorce in which one spouse has considerably more assets than the other, one spouse may attempt to hide assets in order to retain more of the marital estate for him or herself once the divorce is finalized. This is both illegal as well as unethical, and if you or your spouse is discovered attempting to hide assets, the penalties can be severe. If you suspect that your spouse is attempting to hide assets in your Los Angeles divorce, let an experienced divorce attorney at the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler advocate for your legal rights. Call or contact the office today for a free consultation.
California Marital Assets
California operates as a community property state for divorce, which means that all marital property is split 50/50 between the spouses. Marital property encompasses all assets and debts acquired during the course of the marriage by both spouses. Because the split is equal, sometimes a spouse may attempt to hide assets in order to keep more of the marital estate for him or herself. This is attempted in a number of ways, from transferring assets to family and friends right before the divorce, fake loans, failing to divulge ownership of certain property, or money laundering.
Penalties for Hiding Assets
A spouse who is caught hiding assets can face both civil and criminal penalties for the offense. Civil penalties include paying the costs for any investigators, accountants, and attorneys’ fees for the other spouse as well as having any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements voided if it is in the other spouse’s best interest. In addition, the court can allocate a larger portion of the marital estate to the other spouse as punishment for attempting to subvert the cour
Criminal penalties for hiding assets in a divorce can include conviction for contempt of court, which includes fines and potential jail time. Perjury charges can also be filed against a spouse hiding assets if he or she lied under oath about the state of financial affairs. In California, conviction for perjury can come with up to four years in prison and a permanent criminal record. Depending on how a spouse attempts to hide assets, fraud charges can also be brought in criminal court, which come with their own set of fines and jail time. A spouse convicted in criminal court may also be required to pay restitution to the other spouse for those crimes.
It is important to note that a former spouse can still be liable for civil and criminal offenses if it comes out after the divorce is finalized that he hid assets during divorce proceedings. If the divorce settlement agreement required the full disclosure of assets, a former spouse can petition to reopen the divorce settlement to get what is truly owed from the marital estate.
Call the Office Today
To learn more about your legal options if you suspect a spouse is hiding assets in a divorce, call or contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler in Los Angeles today.