As a married couple’s relationship begins to fall apart and divorce appears imminent, one spouse may be tempted to conceal assets to avoid having them included as part of a final disposition of the marital estate. In some cases, a spouse may even try to hide income so that a judge does not consider it when issuing an order regarding child support or alimony. Regardless of the ultimate goal, this type of misconduct is against Michigan law and can be grounds for legal penalties. Still, it’s difficult to address the situation when you don’t know the existence or nature of the asset: How do you know where to look when you don’t know what you’re looking for? Fortunately, state law provides you with options to discover assets or income your spouse has concealed. The key is retaining a Michigan divorce attorney with experience in tackling tough property division cases.
Parties in a divorce matter can use Michigan court rules governing the discovery process to gain access to information from the other spouse. These tools can be very useful in an attempt to find out if your spouse is hiding assets or income.
- Subpoenas and Requests for Production of Documents: To obtain papers that represent an asset, for either real or personal property, you may subpoena or request that your spouse produce relevant documents. This tactic might lead to discovery of such hidden assets as bank or investment accounts, real estate deeds, interests in a business, or sources of income.
- Interrogatories to Parties: A party in a divorce may serve written interrogatories upon the other side, which are especially useful when you want to ask your spouse specific questions about assets or income. Interrogatories require your spouse to provide sworn answers to a series of questions. Because the responses are given under oath, there can be severe legal penalties for false or misleading statements.
- Depositions on Oral Examination: A deposition is an in-person, session where your attorney asks your spouse questions about income and/or property owned by you, individually and as a married couple. The proceedings are conducted under oath, which may also lead to severe legal consequences for lying.
Penalties for Hiding Assets
During the divorce process, Michigan law makes it clear that a spouse cannot conceal property or income from the court. All assets must be itemized and accounted in order to make a fair and equitable property distribution. Because some divorce documents and discovery responses are under oath, penalties of perjury apply. Contempt charges, fraud claims, and fines are just a few of the legal consequences for perjury.
Get Help from a Lawyer to Recover Hidden Assets in a Michigan Divorce
The law in Michigan requires an equitable property division between divorcing couples, but a fair distribution is impossible when one spouse hides assets or income from the other – and from the court. Discovery tactics are useful in finding concealed property and properly bringing it before a judge, and an attorney with experience in these complex procedural strategies can help. Attorney Michael A. Robbins will aggressively pursue your interests if you believe your spouse has mishandled property in connection with your divorce. Please contact our Bloomfield Hills, MI office for more information or with to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.