Divorces are difficult and complex processes, and it is common for one or both parties to attempt to conceal assets. In Missouri, this is a serious offense with severe consequences. The Missouri court system takes a dim view of those who try to hide assets during a divorce. Both parties are responsible for disclosing all assets and debts during a divorce, and there are severe consequences for failing to do so.
5 Reasons Why Hiding Assets Is Never Worth the Risk
1. Legal Penalties
Hiding assets is considered a criminal act in Missouri and can result in fines, imprisonment, or both. If discovered, the judge may hold the spouse who hid assets in contempt of court and impose severe penalties, including an uneven division of assets or awarding 100% of assets to the other spouse.
2. Negative Impact on Property Division
In Missouri, marital assets are divided equitably during a divorce, meaning that assets are distributed fairly but not necessarily equally. If one spouse hides assets, the court may consider this behavior when dividing property, potentially resulting in a less favorable outcome for the spouse who attempted to hide assets.
3. Damage to Your Credibility
If a spouse is found to be hiding assets, it can damage their credibility in court and with the judge. This behavior can harm their chances of getting a favorable outcome in other aspects of the divorce, such as custody and support.
4. Financial Loss
Hiding assets can result in financial losses for the spouse who engaged in unethical behavior. If the hidden assets are discovered after the divorce is finalized, the court may order the spouse to turn over the assets to their ex-spouse or pay a monetary award to compensate for the hidden assets.
5. Jail Time
In cases where an individual fails to respond to legal discovery about hidden assets and continues to hide them, they could face severe penalties, including being held in contempt of court. This could result in jail time, fines, and additional legal costs. Individuals may also be required to pay a portion or all of their spouse’s legal fees associated with extended legal proceedings.
How to Avoid Problems
The best way to avoid problems during a divorce is to be honest and forthcoming with all financial information. Each spouse must disclose all assets, income, and debts to the court. Additionally, keeping records of all financial transactions and being prepared to provide proof of your financial situation is vital. An experienced attorney can help to ensure that all debts and assets are correctly accounted for and can help protect your rights during the divorce process.
Disclosing all assets during a divorce can benefit both parties. By fully disclosing all assets, income, and debts, the parties can ensure that the division of assets is fair and equitable. Full disclosure can help prevent delays in the divorce process and avoid additional costly legal fees.
Locating Hidden Assets
There are many ways for a spouse to hide assets during a divorce. Locating hidden assets can be a challenging process. With the help of an experienced divorce attorney and their team of experts, it is possible to uncover these assets and ensure a fair settlement. Ensure you work with an attorney with the skills and resources necessary to conduct a thorough financial investigation and locate hidden assets. Your attorney may recommend hiring forensic accountants, investment specialists, and other professionals to investigate business valuations, tax shelters, and other hidden assets and income types.
There are Many Ways to Uncover Hidden Assets
The first step in locating hidden assets is to conduct a thorough financial investigation. This often involves reviewing financial records, including bank statements, tax returns, investment portfolios, and credit reports. The attorney may also request documentation from employers, real estate agents, and other relevant parties. The information gathered during this process can provide a comprehensive overview of the couple’s assets and help identify potential red flags.
Sometimes, a divorce attorney may hire a forensic accountant to assist in the financial investigation. These experts are skilled in identifying financial irregularities and uncovering hidden assets. They have the expertise to analyze complex financial records and trace assets to their source.
In some cases, a spouse may be reluctant to provide all the financial records required for the divorce proceedings. In these situations, a divorce attorney can request document production with the court. This legal request compels the other spouse to produce the requested documents, which can be used as evidence in court.
A deposition is a legal procedure in which the other party’s attorney questions one party under oath. During a deposition, a divorce attorney can ask questions about the other spouse’s assets and financial records, helping to uncover any hidden assets.
Social media can be a valuable tool for locating hidden assets. Many individuals post photos and information about their assets, including luxury cars, jewelry, and real estate. A divorce attorney can review this information to better understand the couple’s financial situation.
Never Attempt to Hide or Dispose of Assets
Hiding assets during a divorce can have serious consequences, including fines, jail time, and an uneven division of assets. It’s essential to be forthcoming with all financial information and to work with a qualified attorney to ensure that all assets are appropriately accounted for and disclosed as required. It is always best to be transparent and honest to avoid legal and financial problems. If you suspect that your spouse may be hiding assets, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a qualified divorce attorney.
Call the Experts at Lecour Family Law Today
Asset and debt division can be complicated, especially if you have been married for a long time or own a business. The attorneys at Lecour Family Law can help you navigate complex and stressful family legal issues, including divorce, child custody, and child support. Call us today at 636-685-0440 to schedule a consultation. We pride ourselves on offering family legal services tailored to your specific needs.
Lecour Family Law is located at 1270 Jungermann Road in St. Peters, Missouri. We serve clients throughout St. Charles, O’Fallon, Troy, Warrenton, and St. Louis.