There is never a good reason to hide assets in a family law property settlement. Each party has a duty of disclosure but as identified in a previous article (Financial Disclosure in Property Settlement Cases) people regularly struggle to provide financial disclosure.
Some of the most interesting cases I have been involved in have involved cases where people have failed to be upfront about their assets and income. These cases have resulted in a poorer outcome for the spouse who has been trying to hide assets. Some of the more memorable cases include cases with a spouse who was:-
- trying to hide the number of calves born on a property over a number of years in a property settlement involving a cattle business;
- trying to hide funds in bank accounts in the names of their relatives including accounts in the names of their children and another account that was in the name of another family member;
- storing harvested grain in storage facilities instead of selling the grain and needing to disclose the income in a property settlement involving a grain business;
- not wanting to provide bank statements for particular periods of time. When pushed to provide statements for those periods of time discovering other bank accounts not previously disclosed and expenditure of money on things they did not want to share.
If you hide marital assets – you will be caught out!
In all of these situations the spouse was in the difficult position of being caught out hiding assets. There were a variety of methods used to catch people out. The strategies to catch someone out changes in each case depending on what is being hidden. There are endless documents out there which can help show what is the true picture with a spouse’s assets and liabilities or alternatively their income and expenses.
Hiding assets will be detrimental to your case
In none of the situations where people were caught out was it helpful for their case. I have watched spouses being cross examined at Trial by a barrister about deliberately not disclosing assets. Regularly the truth will come out at Trial so the Judge will be able to figure out what the real picture is. However in the process the spouses providing answers to these questions often look defensive, awkward and shifty.
If a Judge forms the view that other assets have been hidden and have not been fully disclosed by the time of Trial then the Judge can take that into account when making their decision. In those cases the client who fails to disclose will generally then get a lower percentage of the assets than they would have if they had disclosed all their assets as they should have.
If you are in a situation where you suspect your ex spouse is not disclosing all their financial information you need to get advice from an experienced family lawyer. They will give you the best chance of helping you discover the truth.
If you would like assistance or more information contact our office to make an appointment with one of our solicitors on 07 4963 2000 or through our online contact form below.