New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, so any marital property is subject to be divided during the divorce process. However, a 50/50 split is not automatic. The court can make any division of assets that is fair. A spouse may try to gain an upper hand during a divorce proceeding by attempting to hide or conceal assets in hopes that he or she will not have to share an asset or will be awarded more assets. However, this act is illegal because New Jersey law requires that both spouses fully disclose all assets and sign a document under oath about the truthfulness and completeness of this document.
Consequences of hiding assets during divorce in NJ
Hiding assets during a divorce is extremely risky. If a judge finds that you have hidden assets, he or she can do any of the following:
- Award the assets to the spouse who has not been dishonest
- Allocate a greater amount of assets to the honest spouse
- Force the spouse who hid assets to pay back missing property or pay a higher amount of spousal support
- Order the spouse to pay attorney and professional fees used to find the concealed assets
- Sanction the spouse who hid assets
Additionally, if you are found to have hidden assets, you likely will not have much credibility with the judge and may find yourself in a worse position regarding other aspects of your divorce.
Signs of hiding assets
Some signs that your spouse may be hiding assets include the following:
- You discover your spouse has a post office box or extra phone
- Money is missing from your bank account
- Property is gone from your home without explanation
- Your spouse does not want to talk about finances
- Large amounts of money are taken from your joint account without explanation
- Bank and credit card statements show transactions that you are not familiar with
- Financial statements or tax returns are missing from their usual location
Where to look for hidden assets
If you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets, some ways that you may be able to uncover these assets include the following:
- Review financial statements – By carefully scrutinizing financial documents like bank statements, credit card statements and tax returns, you may spot unknown sources of income, assets or transfers.
- Ask for formal discovery – Your family law attorney can use the formal discovery process to ask your spouse questions under oath, request documents, or subpoena records from banks or other institutions.
- Review business information – If your spouse owns a business, he or she may be using it to hide your assets by “hiring” fake employees, transferring assets, purchasing property, intentionally delaying lucrative contracts or underreporting income.
- Search property databases – Public databases may reveal information about real property, watercraft or vehicles.
- Hire an expert – A forensic accountant or other expert may be able to use additional databases and review documents and other evidence to uncover hidden assets.
Contact an experienced Freehold NJ family lawyer for help with your divorce case
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets in your divorce, you will need the assistance of an experienced family lawyer. At Lomurro Law, we can discuss your situation and ways that we can try to uncover concealed assets. Contact our skilled family law attorneys at 732-482-9285 or fill out the online contact form. We will schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced New Jersey family lawyer.