When a married couple pursues a divorce, they must go through the legal process of property division. However, if one party tries to hide or conceal assets, they may unfairly influence divorce decisions and face serious legal consequences. To help protect your rights during divorce, here’s a closer look at how you can spot asset concealment and why you should inform your lawyer if you suspect it’s happening.
What Are the Signs of Asset Concealment?
If you’re uncertain about the assets affiliated with your marriage, your ex-partner might be hiding them if they:
- Are reluctant about divorce steps. To prevent an investigation into property, those concealing assets may try to pursue an uncontested divorce without involving lawyers or get defensive when they are asked about personal finances.
- Send mail to another address. Some may try to hide accounts by having financial statements sent to a discrete address—such as a P.O. box.
- Own a business. Business owners will often disguise personal spending as a business expense to evade scrutiny.
How Would Someone Hide Assets?
Often, the individual will simply lie about their earnings—such as by underreporting income levels on their taxes or diverting a portion of their paychecks to a separate bank account. Some will use hidden assets to purchase valuable items—such as art—and have those objects appraised at a lower value. Others may keep funds or other valuables in a safe deposit box or a family member’s bank account.
You should also be wary if your spouse has claimed that they have used assets to repay unofficial debts with family or friends. In these situations, they may have made up the debt with the intent to recollect the money once the divorce is finalized.
What Are the Consequences & Proof of Asset Concealment?
The best way to avoid asset concealment is to hire a divorce lawyer. As your attorney prepares your case, they will go through a process known as discovery that legally requires the other party to disclose all assets and financial statements.
If an individual doesn't fully disclose assets during court-ordered discovery, they can be charged with perjury—an offense that can lead to fines or imprisonment. In community property states, such as Louisiana, a judge may also order the guilty party to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees as well as relinquish the property to the other spouse.
If you’re worried about asset concealment and other deceitful practices impacting your divorce, turn to J.P. Coleman Law, LLC, Attorneys at Law. Based in Metairie, LA, these experienced family law attorneys are adept at pursuing thorough discovery and arguing for fair judgments during divorce trials. Keeping a client’s interests as a top priority, these professionals will work to expose concealment attempts and, if necessary, seek penalties against the offending party. Visit this firm online to learn more about these services or call (504) 332-0062 to schedule a free consultation with a divorce lawyer.