The distribution of marital property between divorcing spouses is a complicated and frequently emotional process. Some spouses may engage in illegal actions, such as hiding assets. Hidden assets in a divorce can have a severely unfair impact on the outcome of a separation agreement if they are not discovered. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets before or during a divorce, you need a qualified Omaha divorce attorney on your side.
Hidden assets are often more common in high-asset and high-net-worth divorces. Spouses may hide assets for many reasons, such as out of spite to the other spouse, from fear of not having the assets to maintain their way of life, or from an attachment to specific assets. If a spouse is discovered hiding assets, this can result in significant legal consequences.
How Do Hidden Assets Impact Property Division?
Nebraska is an equitable distribution state. If a couple has their property division handled by the court, then the court will split marital property based on what it considers to be fair and reasonable. The court analyzes several factors when determining what is fair, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The circumstances of each spouse
- Each spouse’s contributions, including:
- Income, financial resources, and other economic contributions
- Care and schooling of children, care of the marital home, and other noneconomic contributions
- Either spouse’s sacrifices to their career or education to support the marriage or their spouse
- Each spouse’s ability to obtain gainful employment in a way that does not prevent them from caring for any children they have custody of
The court may split property equally, but it often does not. If either party has hidden marital assets, this affects the division of property, as that spouse will walk away with a greater share of marital assets than they were intended to after equitable distribution. The value of separate assets is frequently considered for the circumstances of each spouse, so hiding separate assets can also unfairly distribute marital assets.
Even if a couple does not go through court for property division, hidden assets can still severely impact the outcome of property division. Even in mediation or collaborative divorce, assets and debts are valued and divided according to each spouse’s needs. Hidden marital assets can impact this division. Hiding separate assets also has the potential to affect the separation.
What Are the Consequences of Discovering Hidden Assets?
When spouses have a divorce outside of court, they can either request a formal court-ordered discovery process or voluntarily share information through informal discovery. If you believe that your spouse may be hiding assets from you, you should obtain formal discovery, as it is much easier for a spouse to hide assets and lie about it in informal discovery. The formal discovery process has several tools that an attorney can use to find hidden assets, such as interrogatories, subpoenas, and depositions.
All divorces that occur through court include formal court-ordered discovery. Because the discovery process occurs under court order, and several steps occur under oath, lying or purposefully failing to disclose all assets is contempt of court. If the spouse is discovered hiding assets, they could face several civil and criminal consequences.
The court will likely alter the equitable division of property to be less in favor of the spouse who hid assets. Depending on the assets that were hidden, the court may award all the hidden assets to the other spouse.
The court may also order the spouse who hid assets to pay the attorney fees and court costs of the other spouse. Contempt of court proceedings can result in criminal consequences, including fines and up to 30 days in jail.
Q: What Happens When a Spouse Hides Money During a Divorce?
A: If a spouse hides assets during the court-ordered discovery process, they could face contempt of court proceedings and criminal charges. In addition to these serious consequences, the outcome of the divorce may also be affected. Hiding both marital and separate assets impacts property division, and the discovery of hidden assets will also affect the division. Courts do not look favorably on a spouse who attempts to hide assets, and they may award the other spouse more marital property, potentially including the assets that were hidden.
Q: Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Nebraska?
A: Nebraska is a no-fault divorce state, and it does not allow fault-based divorces. Divorces can only be filed for the no-fault ground of being irretrievably broken. However, adultery could potentially affect other aspects of the divorce in specific circumstances.
If a parent’s actions of adultery placed their child in danger, the court may determine that it is not in the child’s interests for that parent to have significant custody rights. If a spouse wasted marital assets on a relationship outside their marriage, the court will likely alter the division of property to give that spouse fewer marital assets.
Q: How Are Assets Split in a Divorce in Nebraska?
A: Assets are split according to equitable distribution laws in Nebraska. This means that if the court decides the division of property, then marital assets are divided according to what the court deems fair and equal. This decision will be based on factors such as:
- The length of marriage
- The separate resources of each spouse
- The wasting of marital assets
- The contributions of each spouse to marital property
Contributions include financial and nonfinancial contributions. Based on these factors, the court will determine if the divide should be equal or not.
Q: What Is Considered Marital Property in Nebraska?
A: Marital property includes any assets obtained by spouses over the length of their marriage, with some exceptions. For example, a gift or inheritance that only one spouse receives is considered separate property, even if it was obtained during the marriage. The spouse claiming that a portion of assumed marital property is, in fact, separate property has the burden of proof to show the court that this is the case. Separate property can become marital property through transmutation or commingling.
Protecting Your Financial Interests in Your Omaha Divorce
The formal discovery process is much easier to navigate when you have strong legal representation and support. Your attorney can help review your circumstances and determine how to find evidence of hidden assets. Contact the attorneys at Stange Law Firm today.