Next to custody, financial matters are often the most contentious elements of any divorce. Whether it is real property or coin collections, it is common in contested divorces for a spouse to attempt to hide assets from the eyes of the court. However, just because they try, it doesn’t mean they are always successful. There are many ways to pull these assets out from under the rug and ensure that the division of property is fair, equitable, and in accordance with Arizona family law.
Commonly Hidden Financial Assets in Arizona
Cash is one of the easiest assets to conceal. But, whether or not it’s stuffed in a mattress or locked away in a safety deposit box, individuals are required to declare it on their financial disclosure form.
Similar to cash, jewelry, artwork, collectibles, coin collections, and other transferrable property is often left off of financial disclosure forms. In a contentious divorce in Arizona, the spouse may gift these assets to other family members, have them appraised for significantly less than they are worth, or sell them for less than their value with the intent to purchase them back after the divorce is finalized.
Stocks and bonds are also commonly hidden assets. These can be hidden by transferring the stocks or bonds to a third party, or by claiming the stocks or bonds were sold or lost. Similarly, retirement accounts and pensions are sometimes easily forgotten.
Insurance policies and their cash value are often omitted from financial disclosures. Usually, a divorcing parent will change the beneficiary to a child or another family member to avoid paying their partner for the value of these policies.
Real estate and business holdings aren’t usually hidden. However, it is common to claim significant losses on these to diminish their value as much as possible.
Shining a Light on Shady Dealings
Nothing stays hidden forever, and with the right investigative techniques, it’s possible to find hidden assets and hold the other party accountable for their attempts to hide them. You can subpoena records from bank accounts, retirement accounts, and insurance policies if they are not provided during the discovery process.
The court also has the authority to issue a court order to fully disclose the location, condition, and value of assets. If the spouse fails to comply with the court order, they can face significant consequences, including incarceration.
The use of private investigators and forensic accountants is also effective at uncovering hidden assets in an Arizona divorce. Forensic accountants are highly skilled at reviewing financial records, tax forms, contracts, and policies. They can present their conclusions to the court and confirm whether an asset is hidden, and often, where that asset is hidden.
Penalty for Hiding Assets in Arizona
Arizona courts do not look favorably upon individuals who attempt to hide assets in a divorce. The courts can order individuals who violate Arizona’s asset disclosure laws to pay hefty fines. They may also be liable for any attorney fees and expenses, such as forensic accountants and private investigators, related to uncovering hidden assets. Often, the family law courts will dismiss asset claims. Finally, if the spouse committed perjury, the court can pursue criminal charges and potential incarceration.
Contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, at 480-745-2450 for more information about our family law services. It is our pleasure to schedule a consultation to discuss your divorce and the steps that may be required to reach a fair and equitable division of property. We have strong relationships with private investigators, forensic accountants, and other experts that help our clients receive an equitable division of marital property.