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Are there legal consequences for hiding assets during divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2022 | Property Division

Even though divorces do not have to be bitter, the end of a marriage can bring out anyone’s worst tendencies. This is especially true if there was infidelity during the marriage. To try to get even, the aggrieved spouse may hide assets in the lead-up to the divorce.

Despite being unlawful, hiding assets is a way to gain an unfair advantage. That is, if a spouse can conceal wealth until after the divorce concludes, he or she may end up with more than a fair share of the marital estate. Still, there are legal consequences for hiding assets during divorce proceedings.

Property division

In Virginia, divorcing spouses each receive a share of their marital assets. If the court learns a spouse is hiding assets, though, the judge may give the hidden assets to the honest spouse. The court also may order the dishonest spouse to reimburse the other for any money he or she spent to locate the missing wealth.

Court sanctions

Divorcing spouses have a legal obligation to disclose financial information both to each other and to the court. If either spouse fails to do so for the purposes of hiding assets, the judge may find the dishonest spouse to be in contempt of court. The judge may then require the hiding spouse to go to jail until he or she completes and files accurate financial disclosures.

Criminal charges

Depending on the nature of the hiding spouse’s conduct, he or she also may face criminal charges. That is, if the spouse commits fraud, perjury or another criminal offense, prosecutors may try to hold him or her legally responsible for violating state or federal law.

Ultimately, because of the potentially severe consequences of hiding assets during divorce, it is advisable for both spouses to be truthful about finances.