Hiding or misspending marital assets can hurt the chances of an amicable divorce. An attorney is best-equipped to help when you suspect financial misconduct during divorce.
Financial misconduct during a divorce is serious. A spouse who hides marital assets during a divorce proceeding puts him or herself at risk for a myriad of consequences. If it is discovered that one spouse hid assets from the other spouse or misrepresented the amount of marital assets available during the divorce, it is likely that when the misconduct is discovered that the court will favor the honest spouse when the misconduct is discovered. To protect yourself from falling victim to financial misconduct during a divorce, arm yourself with a knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney who can help ensure an accurate accounting of the marital assets.
Marital assets include all of the property acquired during the marriage. This includes houses, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and anything else purchased during the marriage for the benefit of both spouses. The court will examine only the marital property as part of the divorce settlement and will leave out the accounting of separate assets like passive income from separate property, or inheritance received by only one spouse. This is important to remember and will help you as you tally the assets for an equitable split. If you own your home outright with no mortgage payments before the marriage, that is not considered marital property unless your spouse financially contributed to the property. A divorce attorney will help you review your assets and determine if the assets are considered marital property or separate property.
Spouses have a fiduciary duty to protect marital assets, and under Ohio law this means that hiding joint assets or misrepresenting those assets is frowned upon. This could be something as simple as not disclosing something purchased with marital assets to an inaccurate valuation of a family-run business. The most common omission is when a spouse uses marital assets to either provide an apartment or gifts for a mistress or lover and does not disclose the spending during the divorce. Additionally, it is considered misconduct if one spouse hides gambling debts and uses a joint account to pay the balance. If one spouse discovers a discrepancy in marital spending due to misconduct, it changes the way the court views the equitable distribution of assets.
The spouse who has not committed financial misconduct can strengthen his or her position should he or she become the victim of financial misconduct during a divorce. Many courts will award a higher divorce settlement amount to make up for the spending or misrepresented marital assets. Divorce lawyers are necessary, as attorneys with a focus in family and divorce law know what to look for and how to best deal with financial misconduct. Attorneys often have relationships with financial investigators who can get to the bottom of any perceived misconduct. If you find yourself wondering where all the money went at the end of the month, it might be best to contact a divorce attorney and investigate any potential financial misconduct.
The financial misconduct may not be discovered until after the divorce decree has been signed. If a spouse has withheld moneys or property from a final accounting of the marital assets, he or she runs the risk of facing the messy divorce process a second time. Courts will often review the case and award a larger settlement to the spouse that did not commit financial misconduct.
Rather than assume your (soon to be) ex-spouse will give a true and accurate accounting of the marital assets, be certain with the help of an attorney. Divorce attorneys with experience can review your case and may see red flags that others could miss. An experienced divorce and family law attorney may be able to look for any hints of wrongdoing and can advocate on your behalf for your entitled share of the marital property.
Hiring an attorney is crucial for high-value divorces, especially when a family-run business is involved. If one spouse values the business and submits those documents to court, any other valuation raises red flags and might demand an accounting of the business.
Divorce can be messy and financial concerns can complicate a process that is already wrought with fear and uncertainty. Retaining a divorce attorney is the key to a thorough review of financial records and peace of mind. With access to experts and a clear understanding of the divorce proceedings, divorce and family law attorneys are best-equipped to answer any questions pertaining to financial misconduct in divorce. Many offer free consultations, and welcome the chance to help.
Edward F. Whipps has demonstrated the unique ability to both understand important psychological principles and to apply them to the practice of family law. His ability to use his background in psychology is especially evident in his negotiation skills used to achieve successful results in divorce and dissolution cases.