Under Michigan law, divorcing parties are entitled to equitable distribution of marital assets. However, this can be complicated when one of the spouses is hiding assets. This makes the property division process inequitable.
Hiding assets is not just a fun game. It is illegal. It is a crime, as it is considered contempt of court. It is also possible that the person could be charged with fraud. A judge may issue sanctions and require the person to pay the other spouse’s legal fees. The judge can grant higher alimony payments or award other property to the affected spouse.
Do not play this game — it is not worth the risk. Be upfront with your assets. If you believe your spouse is not being honest, seek legal help. You need to make sure you are entitled to your fair share of the property.
Why and How Do People Hide Assets?
People may hide assets for various reasons. Sometimes it is just a mistake — they forgot about an asset and failed to include it. In most cases, though, it’s intentional. A spouse may be greedy. A lot of times, there is anger involved. One spouse may not agree to the divorce and want to get back at the other spouse as a sort of revenge.
Any type of asset may be hidden. One party might conceal bank accounts, investments, business income, jewelry, collection, heirlooms, or anything else of value. They may do so in the following ways:
- Stash money in a safe deposit box.
- Underreport income on tax returns.
- Overpay the IRS or creditors to get a refund later once the divorce is finalized.
- Defer salary or hold commissions or bonuses until the divorce is final.
- Transfer stock to others.
- “Gift” assets to family members, with the intent of getting the assets back later.
- Create phony debt that requires “payments” to family members or friends.
- Set up a bank account in the name of a third party, such as a child or other family member.
What are the Consequences?
During the discovery process, the divorcing spouses gather information from each other. They turn over relevant financial information to the other spouse or their spouse’s attorney. You will have to provide testimony, under oath, about assets and property. If a person lies, they have committed perjury, which is a punishable crime. They will likely face severe sanctions, such as a criminal charge and monetary fines. They may be ordered to pay their spouse’s legal fees and give all hidden assets to their spouse.
If a person is ordered by the court to do something, such as provide documents, and they defy the court, they can be held in contempt of court, which can result in jail time.
Contact Us Today
Many people are driven by greed. They want as much money and property as possible. This can lead to legal ramifications. The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins can assist you. We can demand documents and hire a forensic accountant to help uncover hidden assets. To schedule a consultation, fill out the online form or call our office at (248) 646-7980.