As if the emotional pain of filing for a divorce isn’t enough, there’s also the difficult confrontation of potential spousal support, child support obligations and the accompanying financial strain. Because what you pay is determined by your net resources, it might be tempting to be dishonest about assets during divorce proceedings. That said, DON’T — this is a very bad idea. You should never lie about your assets in order to reduce potential spousal support or child support costs. Doing so not only gets you into quite a bit of legal trouble, it only worsens the stress of getting the divorce.
Ways People May Try to Hide Assets
During a divorce, both parties are required to disclose all financial assets in a financial statement given to the Court during the first appearance. This form may sound like another tedious piece of paperwork in the process, but it’s actually a crucial part of the court proceedings. This written statement will set the baseline for negotiations beyond the initial court date. This information is also able to be used by the opposing attorney during cross examination into your finances.
Intentionally overstating your debts or expenses, understating your income and the value of your assets or outright omitting income/assets can backfire in a divorce. Once discrepant evidence has been surfaced, these can be used against you. How you might ask?
Even if it seems like a white lie, failing to truthfully disclose your finances can result in a less than favorable outcome when it comes to splitting your assets, awarding spousal support and awarding child support. If you are caught lying either by the judge or your ex-spouse during discovery, it may strengthen your ex-spouse’s case or jeopardize your credibility with the judge. This immoral discovery may influence the judge’s decision when it’s time to determine spousal support, divide assets or award child support. Depending on the circumstances of the case, penalties could be harsh. In one extraordinary case, a judge in California determined that a woman acted out of malice by hiding $1.3 million in lottery winnings in her divorce. He awarded every cent of her winnings to her husband.
Additionally, if a Court finds that you are intentionally attempting to be “under-employed” to avoid high child support obligations, the Court can apply the guideline child support to what you potentially could be making. Therefore, substituting the Court’s judgement on what you should be earning regardless of what you actually are earning.
Your Best Bet
Finally, there is nothing more important than hiring a qualified divorce attorney to handle your divorce, from child support to spousal support. When it comes to protecting your hard-earned personal property, don’t gamble with your future by hiding any finances. Your best bet is to consult a skilled and experienced divorce attorney to help you preserve your assets. Be honest with your attorney about any and all financial information, and your odds of achieving a favorable ruling will greatly increase.
Taly Thiessen, One of Houston’s Strongest Family Law Attorneys
Whether you’re concerned about a dishonest ex-spouse or you’re trying to protect assets that are rightfully yours, it’s absolutely vital that you hire an attorney who has real courtroom experience and a deep family law expertise to back it up.
Taly Thiessen combines trial-tested battle strategies with a family law-savvy to deliver strong representation during your divorce or custody hearing. To start preparing your case, contact us today to schedule a consultation.