Is Your Spouse Lying about Income in Your Michigan Divorce?
In marriage, it’s not uncommon for spouses to keep separate assets and accounts. While some partners are extremely transparent and share all of their financial information, there are also plenty of marriages in which one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. The latter situation can make for problematic divorce proceedings, especially if one spouse is duplicitous when it comes to reporting earnings and other assets.
If you suspect your spouse isn’t being totally upfront about income, what steps can you take to find out, and what can you do to ensure a fair and equitable division of assets? Here’s what you need to know if you think your spouse may be committing fraud during divorce proceedings.
Expectations for Disclosure
The first thing you need to understand is that all marital property must be disclosed during a divorce so that it can be reviewed in order for Michigan courts to divide it between spouses in a fair and equitable manner, under the law. It is illegal to fail to disclose marital property or to hide it in the hopes that the court won’t discover it.
Some people hide paper like deeds or portfolio information, while others convert money into art, jewelry, or collectibles. Others may funnel money into a business or collude with a third party to pay off false debts (while retaining funds). All are illegal means of hiding marital property.
Discovering Unreported Income
If you know or suspect your spouse isn’t reporting income to the court, you and your lawyer can take steps to try to discover unreported earnings as proof of fraud. This can be done in a few different ways – through informal discovery, formal discovery, and private investigation. Each can have costs, so you need to discuss all of your options with your attorney before moving ahead.
Informal channels of discovery could include asking financial institutions for accounts information. This may or may not yield results. If not, your lawyer will have to move on to formal discovery techniques, such as legal requests to produce documents, motions to compel production of information, interrogatories (or formal questions from one party to another in a case, which must be answered), depositions (formal statements of sworn evidence), and subpoenas (or summons to compel sworn testimony in court).
Finally, if all informal and formal discovery efforts fail to produce evidence of fraud, you and your attorney can work with a private investigator to try to find needed evidence. However, this can become very expensive, with no guarantee of discovery. If evidence of fraud is discovered, it must be disclosed to opposing counsel and the court.
Penalties for Hiding Income or Marital Assets
The courts do not look kindly on spouses that try to hide marital property out of greed, vindictiveness, or other motivation, and the penalties for doing so can be steep. Not only can the offending spouse be charged with fraud, but the judge has the authority to award up to the entirety of the hidden asset or assets to the spouse from which it was hidden.
If you suspect your spouse may be lying about income or other marital assets in a divorce, contact the qualified attorneys at The Gucciardo Law Firm at 248-723-5190 today for legal advice and assistance.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.