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The danger of hiding assets during a divorce

A divorce is one of the most difficult, traumatic and expensive ordeals most people will ever experience. If you are enduring a divorce, there are undoubtedly questions regarding your assets buzzing in your head. Are you truly going to lose half of everything you own? What about things you had before the marriage? Can you keep your assets safe somewhere else during the divorce?

These are all large questions, but the small answer is that Connecticut does not require equal distribution, just fair distribution. And never, ever try to hide your assets during a divorce.

Equitable distribution during divorce

You most likely have heard of separate and marital property. Everything you and your former spouse came into the marriage with is your separate property, while what you accrued during your marriage is your marital property. This includes cash, your family home, vehicles and so on. You and your spouse must agree on a "fair" distribution of all marital property.

"Fair" is where things can become murky. If an agreement can't be reached, the decision of what is considered fair distribution of all assets will be made by the Superior Court. The court considers many factors when splitting assets, including:

  • Length of your marriage
  • Potential fault
  • Health, age and employability
  • Current income
  • Ability to earn future assets and income

Clearly, there are many variables at play in a high asset divorce. That is one reason it is so important to seek legal counsel before you begin the divorce process.

Hiding assets during the divorce

Let's be completely clear: lying about your assets during a divorce is illegal. Attorneys who specialize in divorce know the tricks people often try to use to keep more for themselves, and are almost certain to find hidden funds or assets. Moreover, modern technology and records have made being deceptive about where money is moving to and from nearly impossible.

Despite this, however, a shocking number of married couples have admitted to being dishonest about money with their spouse. According to Forbes, nearly three in five people have hidden money, and over a third have openly lied about finances, earnings and debt.

Punishments for hiding assets

If you are caught lying during your divorce proceedings, the punishments can be extremely severe. Judges have a variety of options at their disposal, and laws vary by state, but you can expect civil and criminal penalties.

Civil penalties can include being forced to pay your former spouse's court costs and other bills, prenuptial agreements being made void and receiving considerably less of the martial property than you would have received otherwise.

Criminal penalties are also a factor. Keep in mind that you are testifying your assets under oath, and will be committing perjury by lying. You may also face fraud charges or be held in contempt of court - crimes which can yield years of jail time.

The Superior Court is foremost interested in achieving a fair distribution of your marital assets. If you are concerned that you won't be given your due, don't try to get more by being dishonest - find a skilled divorce attorney to help you achieve the results you want.

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