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Are There Consequences and Penalties for Hiding Assets in a Divorce?

Posted On June 11, 2022 In Divorce

Arizona is a community property state. Spouses share equal rights to marital income, real property, and financial information. Community property laws apply to all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, with the exception of designated separate property of the spouses.

Marital assets may include, but are not limited to:

  • The marital home;
  • Vacation property;
  • Any business or professional practice;
  • Investments;
  • Savings;
  • Bank accounts;
  • Pension plans;
  • Life insurance;
  • Retirement accounts; and
  • Stocks or other investments.

One or both spouses may begin hiding marital assets in anticipation of a divorce or when a divorce is filed. However, doing so is illegal and opens that spouse up to family court penalties and more.

Concealing Marital Assets is Illegal

At the beginning of every divorce, spouses must disclose all of their assets, including monthly income, debt, and expenses. Each does so by signing legal documents under oath, subject to penalties for perjury (lying).

When the Petitioner, the spouse filing for divorce, files their Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court, they must list all of their assets with an approximate value. This document is served on the Respondent spouse, along with a Preliminary Injunction.

A Preliminary Injunction is a court order prohibiting the following conduct by either spouse:

  • Concealing earnings or community property from the other spouse;
  • Taking a loan against community property; and
  • Selling, transferring, mortgaging, or disposing of community property.

Violating the Preliminary Injunction can result in charges of contempt of court, fines, and even jail time.

The Respondent, like the Petitioner, is required to disclose all of their assets with an approximate value upon filing their Response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

The Consequences of Lying Under Oath

Violating asset disclosure laws in a divorce is a serious offense. Not only could an offender end up paying for their spouse’s attorney fees, but they could also be fined and serve jail time.

Other penalties could include:

  • Losing a portion of their share of the community property to the other spouse;
  • Losing all of their share of the community property to the other spouse; and
  • Losing any credibility with the court.

It is best to be honest and up-front about income and assets rather than lose any claim to half of the community property in a divorce.

Uncovering Hidden Assets in a Divorce

During a divorce, subpoenas are helpful in uncovering a spouse’s hidden assets. People and records can be subpoenaed as evidence in a case.

Outside of court, private means may be used, such as a forensic accountant. These financial experts specialize in tracing funds to their source and accounting for income and expenses.

A spouse may hire a private investigator to find out if their partner uses multiple banks, investment firms, or visits an unknown post office box to collect mail.

Speak with an Experienced Arizona Divorce Attorney

If you think your spouse is hiding assets in preparation for a divorce, contact an experienced Chandler divorce attorney immediately. At Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC, we can start legal proceedings to hold your spouse accountable for asset concealment.

At Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC, has relationships with forensic experts and other professionals to help ensure your divorce settlement is fair and equitable. If you discover hidden assets after your divorce, our skilled attorneys can assist you with those proceedings as well.

Reach out to Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC, now to learn more about asset concealment in Arizona and how an attempt to deceive the court can impact you.