Hiding assets in a Georgia divorce can lead to trouble

It is not unusual for one spouse to be in charge of a family's finances. Such arrangements make it easier for the spouse controlling the money to take advantage of the other spouse if the marriage ends in divorce, leading to an unfair property division. However, if a spouse hides assets during divorce and is later discovered, it can lead to serious consequences. People should be aware of the signs a spouse is hiding assets, where people typically hide assets and the penalties for hiding assets during divorce.

What are the signs that a spouse is hiding assets?

One of the most common indications that a spouse is attempting to hide assets during divorce is an unwillingness to use attorneys to handle the divorce. Many people understand that when professionals get involved, there is a greater likelihood of getting caught hiding assets. Those who hide assets are relying on their spouses' lack of information for their subterfuge, but experienced attorneys know where to look for assets.

Spouses trying to hide assets often get defensive when questioned about financial matters. Spouses may have bank statement and other important financial documents delivered to a different address, such as a post office box.

Those who own their own businesses often have an easier time hiding assets from their spouses. Business owners may try to hide personal spending in with other business expenses or make business decisions that reduce the value of the business on paper so it looks like the business is not worth as much when dividing property.

Where do spouses hide assets?

Some of the more common ways spouses attempt to hide assets include:

  • Telling a spouse that he or she received a pay cut and hiding a portion of paychecks
  • Opening bank accounts in children's names
  • Hiding money in safe deposit boxes
  • Investing in art, antiques or other expensive collectibles and having them appraised under market value
  • Underreporting income on income tax returns
  • Transferring stock
  • Deferring bonuses until after a divorce is final
  • Creating fictional debt with family members or friends, arranging to have the money repaid after the divorce

What are the consequences of hiding assets?

People filing for divorce in Georgia are required to make full financial disclosures on financial affidavit forms. Lying on an affidavit or testifying falsely in court is perjury. The court can issue sanctions for those who perjure themselves, including:

  • Ordering a person to pay the other party's attorney fees
  • Fines
  • Dismissing the person's claim
  • Jail time, in extreme cases

Trying to navigate the divorce process alone can be overwhelming. Many people are not fit to make important financial decisions without assistance while going through the emotional upheaval that often accompanies divorce. If you have questions about divorce and property division, contact a seasoned divorce attorney who can advise you of your options.