Don’t Get Sanctioned: Penalties for Hiding Assets in Divorce
Going through a divorce can be an enormously stressful and emotional time. When significant assets are at stake, some spouses may be tempted to try and hide money, property, or other marital assets from their spouses. However, concealing assets during a Minnesota divorce is illegal and can have serious consequences if discovered.
In this article, we’ll cover the penalties in Minnesota if you’re caught hiding assets in a divorce, how a spouse may try to conceal assets, and what you can do if you suspect your spouse is not fully disclosing all assets.
Having a Minnesota divorce attorney on your side can help protect your rights and financial interests during this challenging process.
How Spouses Try to Hide Assets in Divorce
People try to conceal assets in a divorce in many clever and not-so-clever ways. Here are some of the common tactics spouses use to hide money and property:
- Transferring cash to friends or relatives. A spouse may give cash to a family member or friend to hold or even deposit it into accounts under their name.
- Stashing cash in hidden locations. Cash can easily be hidden in safety deposit boxes, storage units, at a friend’s house, or buried in the backyard.
- Transferring bank accounts. A spouse may open new accounts and shift funds into them or place accounts in someone else’s name, like a relative.
- Using cryptocurrency. The anonymous nature of cryptocurrency makes it easy to conceal holdings from a spouse.
- Transferring title on real estate. Real property, like a house, can be deeded to someone else, but the spouse retains a hidden beneficial interest.
- Transferring business interests. Business assets and interests can be shifted to another person or entity, but benefits still flow back secretly.
- Hiding valuables. Jewelry, art, antiques, or collectibles can be given to others to hold or placed in hidden safe deposit boxes.
- Not disclosing investment assets. Assets like stocks, bonds, and offshore investments may be concealed and omitted from disclosures.
As you can see, spouses can get creative, hiding assets when they want to. But, an experienced divorce attorney has ways to root out undisclosed assets.
It’s Illegal to Hide Assets in Divorce in Minnesota
Under Minnesota law, both spouses must make a full and accurate disclosure of all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. This applies not just to assets titled in your name but anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of who holds the title.
Some of the assets that must be disclosed include:
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts and stock holdings
- Retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs
- Real estate and properties
- Businesses or professional practices
- Valuable personal property like jewelry, art, antiques, collectibles
- Equity in a home or other real estate
- Trust funds
- Insurance policies with cash value
- Cryptocurrency or digital assets
- Income from all sources, including employment, investments, etc.
Concealing or failing to disclose any marital assets is illegal. Not only can it undermine the divorce settlement if assets are later discovered, but it violates the duty of good faith both spouses owe to one another.
Although it may be tempting to some spouses to try and hide money or property in a divorce, especially in high-asset cases, don’t risk it. The penalties, if caught, can be severe.
Serious Penalties for Hiding Assets in Divorce
The court has wide discretion to levy penalties against spouses caught hiding assets in a Minnesota divorce. Fines and court sanctions are commonly used punishments when financial disclosure is incomplete or fraudulent.
Some major penalties include:
Jail Time is a Possibility If Deception is Severe
In the most extreme cases of asset concealment, such as moving large sums overseas, a judge may find you in contempt of court. This could potentially lead to jail time for the most egregious deceivers.
Your Share of Marital Property May Be Reduced
Judges can rule that hidden assets be awarded fully to your spouse as compensation for your dishonesty during the division of marital property. This impacts your settlement.
Paying attorney’s fees and costs
In addition to losing your share of the concealed asset, Minnesota courts can order you to pay your spouse’s attorney fees, court costs, and any expenses incurred uncovering the hidden assets.
This penalty is designed to reimburse your spouse for having to expend time and money confirming the disclosure of assets that should have been voluntarily provided. These fees and costs quickly add up, and you’ll foot the entire bill.
How to Uncover Hidden Assets in Divorce
If you have reason to suspect your spouse is concealing money, property, or not fully disclosing all marital assets, don’t ignore your suspicions.
Your Minnesota divorce lawyer has ways to uncover hidden assets, including:
- Subpoena bank records. Getting bank statements and records can reveal accounts your spouse didn’t disclose.
- Conduct detailed discovery. Interrogatories, requests for the production of documents, and depositions can uncover asset transfers.
- Get court orders. A judge can order the disclosure and accounting of assets believed to be concealed.
- Obtain credit reports. These may show undisclosed debts and assets your spouse has.
- Review tax returns. Income sources and deductions on returns can point to hidden assets.
- Hire a forensic accountant. An accounting expert can analyze records to turn up concealed assets.
- Use private investigators. They can track down assets your spouse is hiding from you.
Don’t let yourself get disadvantaged in your divorce by allowing assets to be concealed from you. Your family law attorney has the tools to confirm complete disclosure or expose any hidden money and property.
Talk to a Minnesota Divorce Attorney Today
Going through a divorce is never easy, especially when you suspect your spouse may be concealing marital assets from you. Don’t let them get away with it. Contact the experienced Minnesota family law attorneys at Martine Law today to schedule a consultation.
With offices in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and nearby areas, our divorce lawyers can answer your questions, advise you of your rights, and start uncovering any hidden assets. The sooner you seek legal help, the sooner we can begin investigating and confirm that all marital property is fully disclosed as required. Don’t let yourself get disadvantaged by allowing your spouse to conceal assets from you.
At Martine Law, our attorneys understand this is an emotional and stressful time for you. We’ll walk you through the process, look out for your best interests, and help get you the best possible outcome in your divorce case. Contact us today to learn how we can help protect you during this difficult time.