Divorce settlements can become highly contentious when arguing over how to distribute property. A spouse may feel they are owed a greater share of the money because they were betrayed. Another spouse may believe they should keep most of the property because they brought more money into the marriage. However, even a final divorce settlement may not be the end of it. Hidden or unknown assets may turn up after the final divorce decree was entered.
In North Carolina, property division after a divorce is based on “equitable distribution.” The court will attempt to divide up property equitably between the spouses. This can be a complex process, with conflicts over what property is separate and what is marital property. In order to properly distribute property after a divorce, there needs to be a full accounting of assets and property.
Often times, one spouse handles the finances and the other spouse may just have a general understanding of the family assets. Asking for a copy of the financial records when filing for a divorce may be the first time the other spouse sees the extent of the family assets. However, these bank records may not show the full financial picture.
A spouse may be intentionally hiding assets to prevent the other spouse from getting their share after a divorce. A spouse may also be siphoning off family money if they are having an affair, to pay for dinners, vacations, or presents. During a divorce, the spouses are supposed to report all their property. If one spouse intentionally omits certain information to defraud the other spouse, they could face serious sanctions from the court.
If the spouse hiding the money is also the one that handles family finances, it may be relatively simple to shift money around. The spouse could be diverting money from their paycheck into a separate account held only in that spouse's name. He or she could also put the funds into the name of a company started specifically to hide the money. The spouse could also give money or property to a friend or lover to hold onto until after the divorce.
It is important to put in the effort to identify all assets, even hidden ones, before the divorce settlement. This can be done through court discovery where each party is obligated to fully comply with court requirements. However, a spouse can also employ a private investigator to identify other property or audit their finances to account for any suspicious activity.
A final divorce order for property division is intended to be final. However, it may only occur after the divorce that a spouse discovers the other spouse is suddenly flaunting wealth the family never had before. In some cases, the spouse may even brag about getting one over on the ex-husband or wife.
It can be difficult to reopen a divorce agreement after it has been finalized. This is why it is so important to get a full accounting of the assets before the order is entered. If the court does allow the divorce settlement to be set aside or modified, the court may change the settlement amount to reflect the undisclosed property and impose additional penalties. Hidden assets or intentionally deflating income could also change the amount of spousal support or child support owed.
Jerkins Family Law
If you are getting a divorce and are concerned that your spouse may not be telling the truth when it comes to the family finances, Jerkins Family Law can help. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jerkins Family Law is committed to helping our clients in their time of need. Visit our dedicated divorce page to see how we can help you. Jerkins Family Law can help you with all your family law needs. Contact us today and see how we can help.