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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

What happens if you hide assets during divorce?

Hiding assets is a quick way to find yourself in hot water with the court. Judges do not like to hear that someone has been holding back assets or trying to hide their earnings when working on property division during a divorce case. So serious is this that the court may actually award more to the spouse who didn’t hide assets as a way of penalizing the person who did not disclose all of their assets.

Hiding assets harms you and the other party. Why? If you hide assets and get caught, you could:

  • Face criminal charges
  • Face court penalties
  • Lose a greater portion of your assets

If you hide assets, there is a risk that you could be charged with perjury. On top of that, remember that the judge has the final say. If the judge feels that all of your marital assets should go to your spouse, they have the power to make that happen.

Instead of hiding assets, look at ways to keep them separate

You may be in a high-value divorce, so it makes sense to want to fight for a fair share. However, there are positive ways you can do this without risking criminal penalties.

One thing to consider is going through receipts from before your marriage to find any that cover assets you have in your possession. For example, something as simple as a television or piece of furniture may still be in your records, so you could keep them yourself.

Another option is to look for any statements from your spouse giving you something as a gift. Look at old text messages or messenger archives to see if you can find evidence of your spouse giving you a gift that might be considered your separate property now.

Finally, remember that you do have the option to negotiate. Even if you can’t prove that certain assets belong specifically to you, you may be able to ask your spouse to keep them or to have them in exchange for other assets that you don’t need.

Whatever you do, don’t hide assets thinking that it’s the right thing to do. You could end up getting yourself into deep trouble.