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Can you hide assets in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2023 | Divorce, Family Law

Divorce can be a stressful and frustrating time for all parties involved in the state of California. The legal complexity of who gets what after the divorce can make this process even more troublesome. This includes the issue of hidden assets. Many people may be wondering what happens when one spouse hides assets.

Hidden assets

In divorce proceedings, the judge is expected to create an equitable distribution of assets between the two spouses. However, if one spouse hides certain assets from the court, this will be impossible. Assets that were acquired after the marriage are typically deemed to be marital property and will be split up in this manner. Hidden assets typically include things like:

  • jewelry
  • vehicles
  • stocks
  • bonds
  • guns
  • artwork
  • life insurance policies
  • bank accounts

Hiding assets is not legal

Although divorcees often try to hide assets, this is not legal. In fact, it can be punished via contempt of court. Contempt of court occurs when a party is accused of being disobedient to a binding court order by the judge. This can result in severe penalties in California such as:

  • up to six months in jail
  • up to $1,000 in fines
  • up to three years of probation
  • up to 120 hours of community service

As such, avoiding this crime is very important. Your attempts to hide assets will also likely fail. The other spouse’s lawyer will likely use tools like inspections and demands for paperwork to discover assets that were not accounted for or purposely hidden. It can ruin what would have otherwise been your divorce settlement.

Overall, hiding assets during divorce proceedings is certainly illegal and frowned on by the court. If you suspect your ex has done so, there are strategies you can use to uncover the assets.