Penalties for Hiding Assets During a Florida Divorce
Florida is an equitable distribution state when it comes to the division of property in a divorce. This means that assets and debts are split equitably, but not necessarily equally, between spouses. In some cases, one spouse may try to hide assets in order to protect a specific asset he wants to keep or retain more of the marital estate for himself. The consequences of hiding assets during a divorce in Florida are serious and can result in significant penalties. If you believe that your spouse is hiding assets in your divorce case, contact a Tampa divorce lawyer today for help.
Hiding Assets in a Divorce
Hiding assets in a divorce means more than just hiding a favorite piece of jewelry. Spouses in a Florida divorce are required to honestly report the value of all income, assets, debts, and expenses in order to equitably distribute the marital estate. A spouse can attempt to cheat the system if they hide, undervalue, or understate marital property, overstate debts, report lower than actual income, or report higher than actual expenses in order to receive more of the marital estate. If a spouse attempts to hide assets during a divorce, the consequences under both civil and criminal state law can be severe. Some of the most common penalties for hiding assets in a divorce include the following consequences.
Reallocation of Assets
The most common consequence of hiding assets during divorce proceedings is the reallocation of assets from the spouse hiding assets to the other spouse in the case. A judge can award a larger portion of the marital estate to the other spouse. In many cases, the reallocation is the amount that one spouse attempted to hide, but the court can award more or less depending on the specific facts of your case. The spouse found hiding assets may also be required to cover the other spouse’s legal fees that were incurred discovering the hidden assets in the case.
Contempt of Court
The spouse found hiding assets in a Florida divorce may also be found in civil contempt of court. A judge can find the spouse in contempt until the assets are turned over and a full accounting is done of all assets and debts to ensure that no other assets are being hidden in the case. Civil contempt of court can include mounting fines and possible jail time until the assets are revealed.
Criminal Perjury Charges
If a spouse lies under oath about whether assets are being hidden in a divorce case, criminal perjury charges can also be brought against the spouse. This is considered a misdemeanor offense that can come with heavy fines, up to one year in jail, and a permanent criminal record. A spouse can also be charged with perjury if, while under oath, the spouse attempted to mislead the court while trying to hide assets.
Call or Contact the Office Today
To learn more about your legal options if you believe your spouse is hiding assets, call or contact the office of Blair H. Chan, III in Tampa today.