When a couple is separating and divorcing, it might be tempting to hide some money away for the future. Perhaps you’re not confident in the legal system and worry you won’t get your fair share. Maybe you don’t currently have a job and fear your spouse will get everything. Regardless, it’s never a good idea to hide finances during divorce.
1. It’s Illegal
When you get divorced, you go through a process called discovery. This is a process in which each spouse gathers information and shares it with the other spouse. You have to turn over all documents to the other spouse and his or her attorney. You’ll sign a document stating everything you have turned over is complete and true. If you sign a document that’s not complete and true, you’re lying to the court.
You might also be deposed. This means you’ll have to give live testimony about your finances. You do this under oath, so if you lie, you could be accused and found guilty of committing perjury. Consequences typically include monetary fines and sometimes a perjury charge.
2. You Could Lose Assets
If you lie about your finances and are found out (which happens in most situations), a judge could decide not to grant you your fair share of the marital assets. The judge might determine your spouse deserves more because he or she was honest throughout the entire process.
For example, perhaps the sale of your house yielded $75,000 after your loan was paid off. You and your spouse would generally each get half, or $37,500. If the judge found out you hid $10,000 in a friend’s bank account, he or she might grant that $10,000 to the other spouse, and could take that same amount off your half of the house. You would end up with $27,500 and your spouse would end up with $47,500 plus the additional $10,000 you tried to hide.
3. Your Case Could Be Opened Later
Even if you are able to get away with hiding finances during a divorce, there’s a chance you will be found out at a later date, and after your case has been closed. While most divorce cases cannot be reopened, there is the possibility of doing so if one of the spouses was dishonest about finances. If you feel comfortable with what you were awarded in the first place, this reopening of the case could change that in a negative way.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer
Divorce is hard enough to navigate as it is, but when you’re struggling financially, it could be more tempting to hide the little bit of money you have. Contact a divorce lawyer today to learn what you could do instead.