There are many ways that divorce can play out, but when it ends in bitter disputes or even deceptive behavior surrounding marital assets, there may be legal consequences. As one of the most important determinations of alimony or child support is income levels, it can be a motivating factor for one spouse to hide assets or not disclose all income sources.
Divorce in Florida follows equitable distribution state laws, in which the court will determine the split by what is equitable or fair, but that is not always equal. Some of the factors that guide a judge’s decision include:
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage.
- Economic status of both spouses.
- Length of marriage and health of the spouses.
- If the custodial parent will remain in the home.
- Intentional waste or destruction of marital property.
For residents of Fort Myers and surrounding areas who are going through a contentious divorce, getting legal help early on can make a significant difference in the final outcome.
Ways of concealing assets
During the inventorying of marital assets, affidavits on financial disclosure documents are legally binding. By signing the affidavit, the individual swears under penalty of perjury that these are true financial statements. Although people sometimes forget about certain assets, a spouse may deliberately conceal them by:
- Giving cash or the asset to a friend during the proceeding.
- Concealing documents of financial holdings in a hidden safety deposit box.
- Downplaying the value of an asset, such as a business.
- Classifying personal expenses as part of the business, using a shell corporation, or adjusting their salary.
Whether it is motivated by vindictiveness, greed, or simply to reduce support payments, when on spouse willfully conceals assets during a divorce proceeding, this behavior can result in fines or even incarceration. The judge may award the hidden asset to the other spouse.
Revealing hidden assets
The best way to reveal hidden assets is to work with an attorney to determine how much evidence of impropriety may be necessary to prove. Having a financial advisor examine documents to look for inconsistencies can inform the request for depositions, interrogatories and production of documents during the discovery process. A closer look at tax returns and mortgage documents can also turn up red flags.