When two people decide to end their union and seek a divorce, it can be a contentious experience. In many situations, communication between the two breaks down and each harbors ill feelings toward the other. When the divorce process grows especially antagonistic, one former partner may try to hide assets to prevent the other from receiving them in the property division process.
To do this, an individual might transfer property to family or friends, launder cash through a business or even physically hide assets so that the other party does not have access to them. This behavior is illegal and can result in serious consequences.
Florida’s equitable distribution requirement
Under Florida law, divorcing couples must divide assets using an equitable distribution standard. This means that each person has a right to a fair share of the property — although this does not necessarily guarantee a 50/50 split. To determine how to divide the assets, the couple must disclose all property to the court, and the court makes a decision as to how to divide it. When one spouse hides assets, that individual does not report them to the court and the judge therefore does not have the opportunity to enforce an equitable distribution.
Not only is it against the family law rules to hide assets, but it could be seen as criminal, since each spouse must sign affidavits under oath attesting to what assets exist and the values thereof. Further, hiding can be harmful in the long run, even to the party trying to hide the assets. That is, a court could end up voiding a consented to divorce judgment after the divorce judgment has been entered, if it is later determined that assets were hidden or not properly disclosed. If assets are transferred to family members or friends, those family members could become part of any litigation that ensues if it is later discovered that these transfers were made. On the other hand, it can sometimes be difficult, if not impossible, to find hidden assets, if the spouse who is hiding them is doing so through accounts of which the other spouse has no knowledge, and if the assets are not being transferred from accounts that are disclosed
Although the divorce process can be stressful, it’s important to avoid activities like hiding assets. To get the support and strong legal guidance you need, meet with an experienced divorce lawyer in Florida.
Attorney Andrea Combs Jevic also contributed to this blog post.