How can hidden assets impact the outcome of your divorce?

Deciding to file a divorce in California can leave you with uncertainties about the future. Unless you have a legally valid prenuptial agreement on record or can agree on all the terms of your divorce, the court will make all of the most important decisions on your behalf. While there may not be any sure way to predict how the courts choose to divide your assets, looking at the law and the general practices of the court can help you understand what to expect.

It's completely normal to worry about the outcome of the asset division process, as well as any child custody or support proceedings. Sometimes that worry can inspire one spouse to choose to hide certain assets from the other spouse or the court in order to sway the proceedings in his or her favor. Investigating hidden assets can reduce the risk of them adversely impacting your divorce.

The courts can only divide assets they know about

California is a community property state. That means that any assets or debts acquired during the marriage become community property, owned in part by both spouses. Typically, only gifts and inheritances remain separate if acquired during a marriage. Just about any other asset will be subject to division by the court.

In order to make a decision about your assets, the court requires that you and your spouse provide financial information. The court should know about all debt, from student loans to mortgages, as well as all assets, including your home, retirement funds, valuable collections and vehicles. The judge in your case will try to balance the division of assets and debts between the spouses to ensure a fair outcome in the divorce.

If one spouse intentionally hides certain assets from both the other spouse and the court, that could reduce the total value of the marital assets. That reduction in total value will also reduce the amount the other spouse receives, unfairly skewing the process in the favor of the spouse who hid assets.

Finding hidden assets protects your financial future

If you have any reason to suspect that your spouse may hide assets or has already begun doing so, you may need professional help. Locating hidden accounts, secret assets or other items of value can be quite complicated. Specialists like forensic accountants can help you track down diverted funds or place a price on valuable purchases your spouse failed to disclose.

Locating and putting a reasonable price on hidden assets can help you in a divorce. It ensures that the courts have full information about your financial situation, which helps you receive a fairer portion of the community property from your marriage.

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