In a Florida divorce, property is divided between spouses according to equitable distribution. This process identifies all of a couple’s marital and separate assets and liabilities, and determines how it all is divided between each party.
Equitable distribution doesn’t necessarily mean there will be an equal division of property. In many cases, one spouse walks away with a greater share of the marital property than the other. Those who are aware of this possibility might attempt to gain an unfair advantage and hide assets from the process.
If they are successful, money or property that should have been assessed for division and could have been awarded to the other spouse is unaccounted for. Such underhandedness is illegal because the court requires a mandatory and complete disclosure of all marital and separate assets and debts.
How Can I Tell If My Spouse Is Hiding Assets?
It’s not always obvious when your spouse is hiding assets from you during your divorce. If you suspect they are, however, your attorney can complete a financial analysis or, if necessary work with a forensic accountant to investigate your finances.
Some signs that something may not be right can include the following:
- Your spouse seems secretive or suspicious when it comes to questions about your money or other property
- There is an unexplained reduction in your spouse’s income
- The value of your assets is lower than you expect it to be
- There are suspicious withdrawals from your bank accounts
- Your spouse refuses to share the login credentials for online bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and other financial accounts.
- Your spouse has recently opened a separate P.O. box
- You’ve noticed items of significant value go missing around your home
- Your spouse demands you sign financial documents you don’t fully understand
- Your spouse begins complaining that there is not enough income to cover the expenses when there has been no change that would have caused this
If you’ve noticed any of the signs above, there’s a possibility that your spouse may be hiding assets or attempting to do so. Immediately consult with your divorce attorney, who can help you address this issue in court.
What Happens If Hidden Assets Are Discovered?
If hidden assets are discovered during divorce, it could result in a greater allocation of marital property to the other spouse. If there are any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements in place, a judge may void them in the event hidden assets come to light that were not disclosed when the agreement was signed. Additionally, the judge may order the spouse who was hiding assets to pay for all investigatory and legal fees associated with investigating the hidden assets.
Those are a few of the civil penalties one can face. Due to the mandatory disclosure requirement, the spouse who hid assets can also face criminal charges for perjury or fraud while this is not typical.
Who Can I Turn to for Help?
If you believe your spouse is hiding assets from your divorce or you were accused of doing so, legal representation can protect your interests. We at Beaulieu-Fawcett | Newell Law Group, P.A. are strong advocates for our clients, helping them address and overcome complex issues they face during divorce.
To learn more about our services, request a free case assessment today when you contact us online.