For couples going through a divorce, the issue of property division can lead to animosity and arguments. However, hiding assets could lead to far more serious consequences, including being charged with perjury. Making false statements on a financial affidavit is equivalent to swearing falsely in court. The judge can impose criminal penalties on the spouse who has deceived the court, and the financial repercussions can also be grave.
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, about 31 percent of adults surveyed said they have lied about money to their spouses. At least 58 percent said that they hid cash, another 54 percent hid purchases, and at least 30 percent have hidden a statement or bill from a partner. Women are more likely to report spousal dishonesty on the part of husbands: About 65 percent of wives said their husbands had lied about money, while only 47 percent of husbands said the same thing about their wives.
Lying to the court has consequences. The judge in a divorce case has discretion to award the assets, and judges may require payment from the party who has falsely disclosed his or her assets and increase the settlement in favor of the other partner. The person who made a dishonest report regarding finances also faces possible jail time and fines for fraud or perjury.
A divorce attorney can help spouses make honest reports about their finances. In many cases, fraudulent reports are intentional but, in some cases, they are honest mistakes. A divorce attorney can help prevent these mistakes by completing the financial affidavit correctly.
Source: Forbes, "What Are the Consequences Of Hiding Assets During Divorce?" Jeff Landers, Nov. 14, 2012