Hidden Marital Assets in a Michigan Divorce

The state of Michigan demands the fair and equitable division of property during a divorce settlement, which includes equitably dividing all marital assets and debts. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is equal – the court will consider a number of factors when determining how best to divide property in a fair and equitable manner.

That said, it’s not unheard of for one or both parties involved in a divorce to attempt to hide assets so that they don’t have to split them with a spouse. Michigan law is very clear on this point. It is illegal for one party to attempt to hide marital assets in order to circumvent fair and equitable division of property. If parties are caught doing so, they could face a number of unfortunate repercussions.

Why Do People Hide Assets?
There are two main reasons why one spouse might choose to hide assets during a divorce: greed and hurt feelings. In some cases, one spouse may feel like they are more entitled to keep certain property, say if they worked to support the household financially while the other spouse was a stay-at-home parent. In other cases, one spouse might feel like the other is at fault for the divorce (even though Michigan is a no-fault divorce state) and therefore that they shouldn’t get rewarded with equitable property.

Unfortunately, the Michigan courts take a dim view of acting on such misguided principles. The law is clear – there must be fair and equitable division of assets. This means both parties must disclose all marital assets to the court.

How are Hidden Assets Found?
If one spouse suspects the other of fraudulently failing to disclose assets, there are steps to finding out for sure. To begin, attorneys will often contact banks or other authorities in search of account information. If this fails to uncover hidden assets, the next step is to subpoena records or take other legal steps to force institutions to reveal needed information.

This can be an expensive process that eats into existing marital assets, potentially reducing what both parties walk away with. However, it can definitely end up being more expensive for the person caught hiding assets and breaking the law.

What Happens to Those Who Hide Assets?
When it is discovered that a divorcing party has hidden assets from the court, there are a couple of potential outcomes, and neither are desirable. First, the offending party may be charged with fraud, which could include a variety of penalties.

This discovery could also color the decision of the court when it comes to the final division of property. For example, the court may elect to award more to the non-defrauding spouse, potentially even giving the hidden property to the non-defrauding spouse in its entirety. Parties that attempt to defraud the courts and their spouses by hiding property are likely to lose a lot more than if they had simply disclosed the property in the first place.

If you’re going through a divorce and you’re worried about the possibility of hidden assets, it helps to have an expert attorney from The Gucciardo Law Firm on your side. Contact us today at 248-723-5190.

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