Although it is illegal and can result in hurting your case if discovered, many divorcing spouses try to hide assets, usually prior to a divorce action that they know is going to occur. Experience has shown that the more time there is before a divorce action is filed, the more likely it is that spouses will attempt to hide assets from each other.
The standard for the division of marital property in New Jersey is fairness, not equality. If a divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement through negotiation or mediation, then a judge will decide on how assets and debts are divided in a way the court deems fair, which does not necessarily mean 50/50.
Under New Jersey divorce law, both spouses are required to provide full disclosure of all assets and debts in a Case Information Statement. That statement includes a sworn oath you must sign that states all disclosures are complete and accurate. Failing to fully disclose all assets is illegal, and the chances you will get caught are fairly high.
The bottom line is, concealing assets is not worth the trouble you could get into if you are caught. That trouble could include some or all of the following:
Loss of assets.
If it is discovered that you have hidden assets and lied about it, a judge could choose to:
- Award your spouse more assets than he or she had originally intended
- Award your spouse an amount equal to the value of the hidden assets
- Award your spouse higher support payments to make up for the amount you hid
- Order expensive fines
If your spouse had to engage a forensic accountant or other professionals to discover the hidden assets, the court may order you to pay those bills as well.
Changes to the divorce settlement.
If a court finds that you have been untruthful about your finances, it could nullify a prenuptial agreement. And while reopening a final divorce settlement is difficult to do in New Jersey, if the court discovers hidden assets after the fact, it may order the settlement to be revisited.
Loss of credibility.
Lying under oath puts a permanent stain on your credibility with the court. The result is that the judge may heavily discount any testimony you may give to support your case because you have lied in the past.
Loss of your freedom.
If you lie under oath, you are breaking the law, leaving you open to charges of perjury or fraud. Both of these are criminal charges, which can result in jail time. You may also be found in contempt of court and can be fined, jailed, or both.
You can rely on Murphy & Cistaro to skillfully negotiate and mediate your issues to a satisfactory resolution. Should the need arise, you can also count on our experience for being aggressive litigators if the situation calls for a more assertive response. Contact us today for your free consultation.