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Can assets be hidden in the divorce process?

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In every divorce, a key requirement is that each party must fully disclose all of their assets, income, expenses and debts. Unfortunately, however, there are those who attempt to cheat their future ex-spouses by hiding or placing a lower value on certain marital assets in order to try and get a larger share of the marital property than to which they are legally entitled during the divorce process.

In fact, married couples frequently hide important financial information from one another. According to a study that was conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 30 percent of couples admitted that they hid a statement or a bill from their partner or spouse and 34 percent admitted lying to their partners or spouses about issues involving money such as their earnings or their debts.

However, there are ways that a person seeking a divorce can protect themselves from this behavior. Those individuals who are involved in high-asset divorces might consider hiring an independent financial adviser who can generate a report of the ordinary living expenses of each spouse during the last three to five years of marriage. This kind of analysis can help to contradict a spouse who may either be inflating his or her expenses or misstating his or her disposable income.

Additionally, each party will need to sign a financial affidavit containing information regarding all of his or her respective assets, property, liabilities, incomes and debt. These affidavits must be signed under oath. If either party is found to have made a false statement on this document, he or she could be subject to criminal penalties for perjury.

Most judges will not tolerate lies or deception regarding these crucial issues. If any lies are discovered during the course of or even after the divorce process, the violating party normally will pay a high price in court for this deception, including forfeiting some or all of the hidden assets.

Source: Forbes, "What Are the Consequences Of Hiding Assets During Divorce?" Jeff Landers, Nov. 14, 2012

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