Myth vs. Fact: Hiding Assets During Divorce
Divorce can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. However, it is important to approach it with honesty and transparency. Unfortunately, some individuals may attempt to hide assets during a divorce in order to prevent their division. In this blog, we will debunk the myth that hiding assets is an effective strategy and shed light on the severe consequences that can result from such actions.
The Illegality and Consequences of Hiding Assets
Let’s set the record straight – attempting to hide assets during a divorce is illegal and can lead to severe consequences. Engaging in such behavior can result in fines, penalties, and even potential criminal charges. Therefore, it is crucial to understand that the potential short-term gain is far outweighed by the long-term consequences.
Exposing the Reality: Asset Disclosure
At our firm, we prioritize the importance of asset disclosure and ensure our clients are fully aware of the implications of hiding assets. Throughout the divorce process, our clients engage in a thorough disclosure process, where they provide comprehensive information about all their assets and debts. This transparent approach allows for a fair and equitable division of property.
While it is unfortunate, we have encountered numerous cases where individuals attempted to hide assets. This often leads to complicated legal proceedings where forensic accountants are brought in, and documents are subpoenaed. Not only does this make the divorce process more contentious, but it also incurs substantial financial costs.
The Pitfalls of Hiding Assets: A Lesson on Pensions
One common area where individuals try to hide assets is their pension plans. Some may falsely believe that omitting their pension from the asset list will allow them to retain full ownership. However, this is far from the truth.
Let’s say you decide not to disclose your pension during the divorce process, thinking that you can keep it all to yourself. When you eventually reach retirement age, the pension company will require a copy of your divorce decree. When they discover that your pension was not included in the settlement, they will take action.
The pension company will freeze the pension and assign a portion to your spouse as their rightful share of the community property. This means that you will not be able to collect the full amount you had anticipated. In some cases, individuals have been caught off guard by this consequence, not realizing that their pension would be subject to division.
The Importance of Full Disclosure
It is crucial to emphasize that even if you believe you are entitled to keep 100% of your pension, it still needs to be included in the settlement agreement. Failure to address it explicitly will result in the assumption that community property laws apply. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that silence equates to ownership.
To rectify situations where assets were unintentionally omitted, we have facilitated modifications to judgments. By doing so, we ensure that the missing asset, such as a pension, is confirmed as separate property for the petitioner or respondent. This updated judgment can then be submitted to the pension plan, clearly indicating that the spouse will not receive any portion of the pension.
It is disheartening to witness cases where individuals have been delayed in their retirement plans due to inadequate documentation in their settlement agreement. Taking the necessary steps to ensure all assets are properly addressed can prevent unnecessary complications and delays down the line.
In summary, attempting to hide assets during a divorce is not only unethical but also illegal. The consequences of such actions can have dire financial and legal implications. It is essential to approach the divorce process with honesty, transparency, and full disclosure. By doing so, individuals can achieve a fair and equitable resolution while avoiding the costly and contentious battles that arise from attempting to hide assets.