July 30, 2014 By Paul Wallin
division of assets
Hiding marital assets?

Dividing your assets with your spouse is one of the most complicated parts of the divorce process. Your home, properties, automobiles, personal items, and debt all must be accounted for.

However, many people going through a divorce will fail to honestly disclose all of their assets to get as much as possible in the divorce. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 58 percent of U.S. adults report hiding cash from their spouses.1

Some ways people lie to get more in a divorce include:

  • Hiding or undervaluing marital property;
  • Overstating debts;
  • Reporting higher than actual expenses;
  • Reporting lower than actual income; and
  • Not reporting a new job or other source of income.

Hiding marital assets during your divorce is against the law. If you or your spouse is accused of doing this, you will need an experienced attorney to help you.  Let’s take a look at what can happen to you if you are dishonest about disclosing your property, debts, or other assets.

Filling Out a Financial Affidavit

In every contested divorce, you and your spouse are required to sign a Financial Affidavit. This is essentially a summary of you and your spouse’s financial circumstances. It is a legal document that includes information about your:

  • Income and assets;
  • Debts and liabilities; and
  • Other finances.

The purpose of the financial affidavit is to help the court determine spousal support, child support, and issues of property division. Because so much is at stake, judges depend on you to be honest and accurate when submitting this legal document. Your skilled divorce attorney can help you review the affidavit to make sure you avoid any major mistakes.

Consequences of Lying About Your Assets (California Penal Code Section 118)

When you sign the financial affidavit, you are swearing under penalty of perjury that you have disclosed all of your finances to the best of your ability. If you knowingly hide assets or do not disclose debts, you can face severe criminal penalties.

Under California Penal Code Section 118, willfully giving false information when testifying in court or on a signed affidavit is considered perjury.2 This is a felony. If you are convicted of perjury, you could be sentenced to up to one year in county jail; or four years in state prison.

A judge can order you to pay your spouse’s attorney fees if you blatantly hide assets. Judges also have the power to determine the division of marital assets. In a case in Washington, a judge was so upset by a husband’s repeated dishonesty about his finances that he awarded the wife 90 percent of the marital assets.3

In 1999, a woman filed for divorce just 11 days after winning the California state lottery. However, she failed to disclose her $1.3 million winnings on her financial affidavit. According to the Los Angeles Times, the judge in the case determined that the wife was acting out of malice when she did not report the money. The husband was then awarded all $1.3 million that she had won.

Call the Divorce Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich Today

Accurately disclosing all of your marital assets and debts is a vital part of your divorce proceedings. The consequences of dishonesty are simply not worth it. One of the first steps in dividing your marital assets is to fill out the financial affidavit to the best of your ability. Your experienced divorce attorney can help you properly complete this. With over 30 years of experience successfully handling our clients’ divorce cases, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can help guide you through the entire process with necessary care and precision.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jefflanders/2012/11/14/what-are-the-consequences-of-hiding-assets-during-divorce/

2. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=118-131

3. http://info.legalzoom.com/penalty-hiding-assets-during-divorce-24234.html

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