Hiding assets can be tempting, but it’s never worth it.
New York requires both parties to disclose all their assets fully. Without full disclosure, it’s impossible to divide assets fairly. It’s also impossible to correctly calculate spousal and child support.
Of course, many people tempted to hide assets don’t want to see a fair division in the first place. Nevertheless, it’s a bad idea. The consequences can be severe.
Courts can use five remedies when they discover any party has attempted to hide assets.
- Requiring the guilty spouse to pay legal fees or other restitution
- Granting the innocent spouse higher alimony payments
- Contempt of court charges
- Perjury charges
- Fraud charges
- You are required to disclose all your assets in a Statement of Net Worth document. This is a sworn statement that must be signed by a notary, meaning that lying on this form is no different than lying under oath on the stand.
Divorce is scary, especially as “equitable” distribution is difficult to predict. You’re not sure if you’ll lose half of everything you own or more than half.
Nevertheless, you don’t want to let your fear drive you to make a mistake that can make your situation even worse. Hiding assets does not pay.
How do lawyers find hidden assets?
Lawyers have seen almost every trick for hiding assets in the book, especially those who routinely deal with high-net-worth divorces.
We can look for dozens of red flags when evaluating submitted financial statements. We can also involve forensic accountants, who can track down missing money.
And yes, we do know how to find cryptocurrency.
How to Protect Assets You Care About
The best way to protect the most important assets is to work out a prenuptial agreement before you marry. Of course, by the time you’re getting a divorce, it’s too late for a prenup or even a postnup that would serve the same purpose.
Nevertheless, it’s possible to legally protect assets long before you go before a judge, even if you’re in the thick of the divorce process right now.
95% of divorces settle out of court. That’s good news for you. That means it is possible to protect some assets that matter to you as long as you’re willing to give up something else in return.
Want to keep sole control of the business you built from the ground up? It’s possible, but you may have to part with more cash or give up the marital home to do it.
Realism allows you more control over the divorce process. Your attorney can tell you what the best-case and worst-case scenarios look like. Then you can propose something between those two scenarios. You will never have the same life or lifestyle after the divorce, and it helps to get comfortable with that notion early in the process.
Hire an attorney you trust, and stay honest throughout the divorce process. You’ll be better off.