A divorce can bring out the worst in people, especially when it comes to property division. In some cases, a divorcing spouse may suspect that their soon-to-be ex-spouse is hiding assets. Not only is this behavior unethical, but it is also illegal in New Jersey.
What Assets Are Considered in Divorce?
Unless spouses have no money and no property, they undoubtedly will have joint assets. These assets may include pension plans, bank accounts, mutual funds, a financial portfolio of investments, real estate, valuables, and related items. Each asset is assigned a specific value based on a number of factors, such as the health of the stock market and comparable properties in the area.
How Are Assets Divided Between Divorcing Parties in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, assets are divided between divorcing parties based on the principles of equitable distribution. This means that the assets are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. One party may receive a little more than the other in the divorce settlement or trial. Though this is the law, some divorcing parties may try to withhold assets to avoid losing them.
How Are Assets Hidden in Divorce?
Assets can be hidden in a number of ways. For instance, money can be laundered through a private business, or property can be sold to trusted friends or relatives for very little, and then bought back after the divorce. Money can even be sheltered in a bank account that is unknown to the other spouse. For this reason, finding hidden assets can sometimes require a lot of strenuous investigation on the part of the legal professionals, including the hiring of forensic accountants.
Why do Divorcing Spouses Hide Assets?
Divorce can lead lawful people to do unlawful things, including hiding assets. A spouse may be angry about the divorce and want to punish the other party. Other parties may be merely greedy or distrustful. Occasionally, a person may simply forget to list specific assets. Whatever the underlying cause, assets hidden during divorce can cause trouble.
What is the Penalty for Hiding Assets?
Divorcing parties who are tempted to hide some of their assets should think twice before acting on their desires. If a spouse is caught hiding assets, he or she might have to pay the litigation fees of their ex-spouse and may also face imprisonment and hefty fines. Assets might even be assigned to the ex-spouse.
Courts look down on people who hide their assets, leading to the loss of credibility. Plus, some lawyers will refuse to continue working with a client who has hidden assets from a spouse.
What is the Benefit of Being Transparent About Assets?
Getting a divorce always costs money; therefore, being open and honest about assets makes fiscal sense. The more trustworthy and honest each spouse can be, the faster a settlement can be reached. Though a divorce may be difficult, it does not need to be more expensive or contentious than necessary.
What Can I do if I Suspect Assets Are Being Hidden?
To uncover hidden assets, you can investigate bank statements, records for investment accounts, and cancelled checks. Spouses may also be able to explore financial statements of a jointly operated business, 401k statements, and emails that might indicate fraud. Of course, forensic accounting experts can also prove useful in uncovering assets that have been buried.
If this type of fraud is unveiled after a divorce settlement has been agreed upon, the victimized spouse may push for a judge to set aside all or part of the original settlement or judgment. A judge will not do this without proof; therefore, if you believe your ex-spouse hid assets, you should contact a qualified attorney to pursue legal remedies.
Moorestown Divorce Lawyers at Stockton Family Law Help Divorcees Unveil Hidden Assets
Do you believe that your ex-spouse is hiding assets during your divorce? Are you already divorced and just found out about hidden assets? If so, our Moorestown divorce lawyers at Stockton Family Law can help. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-412-5052. Located in Moorestown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Mount Laurel, Burlington County, and Camden County.