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If you’re one of many California residents who is preparing for divorce and is involved in a situation where there is a lot of contention between you and your spouse, you may have to fight for everything you’re entitled to in a settlement. Such divorces are often highly emotionally charged and quite stressful. In addition to arguing a lot and perhaps not being able to agree on what your co-parenting plan will be, you might be having serious financial problems as well.

Is your spouse combative any time you bring up the topic of money for discussion? Does your spouse get defensive when you ask a specific question concerning a withdrawal from a joint bank account or a recent expenditure that seems extravagant to you? If so, you might have a hidden asset problem on your hands. Hiding assets in divorce is not only mean, it’s illegal, and there are ways to stop it in its tracks.

California is a community property state

This state is one of only nine in the U.S. that continue to operate under community property rules concerning marital asset division in divorce. In layman’s terms, this means that all your assets, including anything you earned or acquired during marriage, is subject to a 50/50 split if you and your spouse decide to go your separate ways.

State law requires full disclosure

As you navigate divorce, you will enter the discovery phase. This means you and your spouse must gather and exchange all pertinent information regarding finances and assets. If you’re working with an attorney, he or she may request that your spouse hand over all information regarding investments, bank accounts, income statements and property records.

Lying may lead to perjury charges

If your spouse doesn’t answer disclosure questions honestly or lies under oath, it is an act of perjury. Penalties under conviction for perjury can be quite severe, including probation, substantial fines or even time behind bars. If the court orders your spouse to submit certain information and your spouse does not, the court may find him or her in contempt. 

What to do to catch a spouse in the act

Some spouses give money to family members or friends to hold until they finalize their divorces under the guise that they are paying back a loan. Others overpay on a credit card bill or income tax. If your soon-to-be ex has done anything that makes you suspect a hidden asset problem, you may request legal support to help you further investigate the matter and bring any and all evidence to the court’s attention.