What are the Consequences of Hiding Assets in a Michigan Divorce?
Falling in love can make us do crazy things and act in ways we never thought we would. How else can you explain couples that get married midair after leaping from an airplane? We’ve all done beautiful, ridiculous things when caught up in the infectious joy of new love.
Unfortunately, the romance doesn’t always last, and before long, we find ourselves saying, “I don’t”. When it comes to divorce, many people experience equally strong feelings, but instead of joy, there is often sadness, anger, guilt, and a host of other powerful emotions involved. These feelings can cause people to act foolishly, say by hiding marital assets out of greed, spite, or some other motivation.
This is something best avoided, however, because Michigan, like many other states, takes a hardline stance on failing to disclose marital assets, or actively hiding them from a spouse and the court. What happens to people who hide assets during a divorce?
What Does it Mean to Hide Assets?
While it is possible to simply forget about certain assets during the course of emotional divorce proceedings – perhaps you have some old deeds or stocks languishing in a safety deposit box at the bank – it doesn’t really matter why or how assets are not inventoried for the court. The divorce process requires spouses to list all assets so that the court can determine if they’re marital property or separate property (often assets that either party owned before marriage and didn’t comingle during the course of marriage).
Whether you mistakenly fail to report these items or you actively try to hide them, being found out will get you in a lot of hot water. The main thing to avoid is failure to disclose when your spouse’s attorney undertakes the discovery process.
If one spouse suspects the other is hiding assets, he/she can ask an attorney use a variety of methods for discovery, including sending formal interrogatories, or requests for sworn information from the offending spouse; conducting depositions, or in-person questioning; and even subpoenaing information or witnesses to prove assets are being hidden. A private investigator may even be hired to find proof. Continuing to try to hide assets at this point is likely futile and will certainly end badly if hidden assets are discovered.
Penalties for Hiding Assets
Michigan law is very clear about hiding assets in a divorce. It is illegal and there are going to be penalties if you are caught doing it. First and foremost, the court is likely to favor the other spouse when it comes to separation of assets. Although Michigan law requires the “fair and equitable” division of assets, this rule pretty much goes out the window when you try to cheat your spouse.
In some cases, the court will award the other spouse up to 100% of the hidden assets, and perhaps even throw in some portion of legal fees (the discovery process can get quite expensive). Worse, you could be charged with fraud and/or contempt for committing perjury under oath, both of which could infer fines or more severe penalties.
If you need help figuring out how to list your assets in a divorce, or you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, partner with the legal experts at The Gucciardo Law Firm by calling 248-723-5190 today.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.