If you are planning to end your marriage, you want to receive a fair share of the marital estate to help you start the next chapter of your life. While Pennsylvania law entitles you to equitable distribution, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may try to gain an unfair advantage.
During your divorce, you and your spouse should each disclose assets, including bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, etc. If your spouse tries to hide something valuable from you, he or she may face some serious consequences. Among others, these include the following three.
1. Loss of the hidden asset
Trying to deprive you of marital assets may have the opposite effect on your spouse. Because judges in the commonwealth do not typically take hiding assets lightly, the judge in your case may award you ownership of the asset your spouse tried to hide. Your husband or wife may also have to pay the legal and other costs necessary to locate the hidden asset.
2. Contempt of court
Failing to comply with legal obligation is likely to irritate the judge who presides over your divorce proceedings. Just as a judge may award you the hidden asset, he or she may also hold your spouse in contempt of court.
3. Criminal charges
While a half-hearted attempt to hide assets may not break any laws, a more involved scheme may satisfy the elements of fraud, perjury or another criminal offense. If your spouse engages in criminal behavior, prosecutors may file criminal charges.
Even bold individuals often balk at potential criminal charges. Consequently, if your spouse is trying to deceive you, the mere threat of criminal prosecution may be enough to keep him or her honest.