Arons and Solomon | September 6, 2018 | Articles
New Jersey is an “equitable distribution state,” which can seem misleading for people who are new to the divorce process. The phrase may sound like all marital assets undergo a perfect 50/50 split, but that is not always the case.
If both parties cannot come to an agreement during negotiation, assets and debts are divided in a manner the court considers “fair,” not perfectly equal.
This often puts the higher earning spouse at a disadvantage, inspiring some to attempt to hide assets to minimize financial loss. This is a terrible idea. Concealing assets during divorce is a highly illegal activity, and the odds of getting caught are very likely.
New Jersey divorce law requires the full disclosure of all household assets. During the discovery process, both parties are required to submit a “Case Information Statement” to the court, a legal document listing all assets, liabilities, and other relevant financial information.
The form includes a signed oath swearing the financial disclosures are complete and accurate, and acknowledging that an intentionally incomplete form is illegal.
New Jersey family courts have no tolerance for deception in the divorce process. If you lie to the courts, it will cost you. Here’s how.
Hiding Assets Can Be Expensive
If you are caught hiding assets from the other party, a judge may:
- Allocate more assets to your spouse than originally planned
- Award the hidden assets to your spouse
- Force you to pay back the missing money through higher spousal support payments
- Penalize you with expensive sanctions
If your spouse had to hire accountants, lawyers, and investigators to hunt down missing money, you may also be stuck paying those bills.
Hiding Assets Can Ruin Your Credibility
If the judge catches you in a lie under oath, your credibility will be ruined. As a result, any future testimony you give will not hold much weight. Common sense tells us that someone who lies once, can lie again.
You will also be hurting the credibility of your legal team in the courtroom. If your divorce attorney decides they can no longer represent you in good faith, they will drop you as a client.
Hiding Assets Can Change Your Divorce Settlement
In some cases, lying to the court can render a prenuptial agreement null and void. If a divorce is finalized and hidden assets are discovered after the fact, a settlement can be reopened. Reopening a final divorce decree is difficult to do in New Jersey, but it is possible.
Hiding Assets Can Result in Jail Time
If you are hiding assets during a divorce, you are lying under oath and breaking the law. This will leave you vulnerable to charges of perjury or fraud, both of which are criminal charges and can result in jail time. If you continue hiding assets, you may also be found in contempt of court.
Hire a New Jersey Divorce Attorney
Spouses have a fiduciary duty to be upfront and honest about the marital finances until the divorce is finalized. If you break this commitment, you must be ready to accept the consequences that follow.
We highly recommend you seek the advice of professional legal counsel to ensure all your paperwork and financial disclosures are compliant with New Jersey divorce law.
If you think your spouse is hiding assets, or you need help completing a Case Information Statement, we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.