Consequences for Hiding Assets in a Divorce

When you file for divorce, one of the most important aspects is preparing a list of all the assets. Your New York divorce attorney will have to file it with the judge assigned to your case. Many people attempt to conceal assets, from cash to valuables. However, lawyers have ways to uncover hidden assets.

Hiding assets in a divorce can harm your case and result in legal penalties. Instead of risking serious consequences, protect your financial interests the right way by contacting the Douglas Family Law Group.

1. Loss of Credibility

Once you are found out hiding assets, the judge will doubt everything you say during the divorce hearings. This loss of credibility will also reflect on your lawyer’s arguments related to aspects such as business valuation or proposed splitting of specific assets.

In the end, any kind of agreements made between your attorney and your spouse’s legal counsel regarding the division of assets may not be taken into consideration. The judge will impose their own view, influenced by the lack of trust in your assertions.

2. Unequal Distribution of Assets

The judge may decide to punish you for trying to hide assets by awarding more assets to your spouse than it would have been equitable. Thus, you will actually end up with less marital property than you would have if you honestly disclosed all your assets.

It will be very hard for your lawyer to sway the judge from this decision because your dishonesty ruined your credibility and trustworthiness.

3. Being Charged With Contempt of Court

Contempt of court is a very serious offense. It means committing one of the following:

  • Misbehavior in court that causes an obstruction in the administration of justice
  • Disobeying or resisting any lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command.

Hiding assets qualifies as resisting the lawful decree to disclose all the properties you own and it carries severe penalties:

  • Fine up to $1,000
  • Up to 30 days in prison
  • Both fine and imprisonment.

If you are convicted, this is a criminal offense that will remain on your record forever. New York law does not allow the expungement of an adult’s criminal record, except for very few specific cases.

do not try to hide assets during a divorce

4. Being Charged With Perjury

Perjury is yet another serious criminal charge the judge can give against you. The four elements of perjury are:

  • You took an oath to give a truthful testimony
  • You willfully made a false statement
  • You believed that the statement was false
  • The statement refers to a material fact.

A New York divorce lawyer knows that this charge carries significant penalties, depending on the severity of the offense:

  • Third-degree perjury: this is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine
  • Second-degree perjury: it is a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in state prison and fines
  • First-degree perjury: This is a Class D felony, punishable by one to seven years in prison.

The classification of the offense is usually influenced by the quantity and value of assets that you tried to hide.

5. Being Charged With Fraud

A fraud charge, just like the other two charges specified above, can have a significant negative impact on your finances, career, and personal life. For an initial offense, the classification of the charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.

6. Having to Pay All Legal Fees Related to the Divorce

As part of the punishment for trying to hide assets, the divorce judge will often order you to pay all legal fees – including your spouse’s lawyer fees. Also, you may have to pay restitution to your spouse.

7. Your Spouse May Receive Higher Spousal Support Payments

Finally, an attempt to hide assets may have costly implications for years to come. The judge may decide to compensate your spouse by setting a higher amount of spousal support.

Together with the other potential penalties, this can have a significant negative impact on your financial situation for a very long time.

Call a New York Divorce Attorney Instead of Hiding Assets

The right way of protecting your assets is talking to a lawyer, not trying to hide them. If your heart is set on keeping specific assets, your New York divorce attorney will negotiate with your spouse’s legal counsel, offering other assets of similar value.

Do not risk your future and reputation! Get your fair share of marital assets through a lawful distribution process. Call Douglas Family Law Group today at 914-615-9058 to schedule an initial appointment!

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