Money and property are some of the biggest contributing factors of disagreement in a divorce. After all, it isn't an easy task to split up everything you and your spouse acquired while married, so naturally, the stakes are high. In some cases, some spouses may even attempt to hide assets in order to avoid sharing them with their future ex-spouse.
Our Atlanta and Peachtree City divorce attorneys share in this guide everything you need to know about hidden assets in a divorce. We will discuss common ways that assets are hidden, uncovering hidden assets, and the legal penalties for hiding assets.
How are Assets Hidden?
Assets can be hidden in several ways. Common examples include:
- If one spouse owns a business, they will wait to sign a business deal until after the divorce.
- Unreported income on tax returns and financial statements.
- Setting up a trust under their child's name.
- Antiques, artwork, hobby equipment, and other collections that may be overlooked or undervalued.
- Separate retirement accounts that have not been made aware to the other spouse.
- Repayment of a fake debt to a friend.
Uncovering Hidden Assets
If you suspect that your spouse will attempt to hide assets during the divorce, inform your attorney immediately. Regardless of whether you have started the divorce process, it is in your best interests to investigate your household and business finances.
Make copies of important documents, including:
- Tax returns from the past couple of years
- Bank and investment account statements
- Pay stubs
- Any other document that reveals assets and/or debt
Keep a copy away from your home if you are still living with your spouse, as well as make a copy to hand over to your attorney. Do not keep copies on a shared computer!
During the divorce, you will go through a process called "discovery," which is when each party exchanges information about the different types of witnesses and evidence they will present during the trial. The purpose is to enable each party to discover more information about the other side's case.
In Georgia, there are several methods of formal discovery, which include:
- Requests for Production of Documents,
- Physical and Mental Examinations,
- Requests for Admissions, and
- Third-party subpoenas
Each party's property ownership, debt, and income should be revealed through the discovery process, thus helping to ensure that marital assets are divided fairly in the divorce.
What Happens if You Are Caught Hiding Assets?
In a Georgia divorce, you are required to make full financial disclosure on financial affidavit forms. Failure to complete a verified financial affidavit truthfully or falsely testifying in court is considered perjury. If convicted of perjury, the court can take such action as:
- Ordering the guilty party to pay the other party's attorney fees,
- Imposing fines,
- Dismissing the guilty party’s claims, and
- In extreme cases, impose jail time.
If you believe your spouse is attempting to hide assets in your divorce, reach out to our Atlanta and Fayetteville divorce lawyers immediately. When hidden assets are not uncovered, you risk not getting your fair distribution of assets in your divorce settlement. To learn about uncovering hidden assets, reach out to KF Law, LLC. Our team is here to answer your questions about finding hidden assets and walk you through each stage of the divorce process.
Contact KF Law, LLC today at (678) 326-4611 to schedule a consultation with our skilled Atlanta divorce attorneys.