A survey conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that approximately one third of U.S. couples with combined assets were dishonest about money. This includes lying about debt as well as money earned. The survey also found that 58% have hidden cash and 54% have hidden a minor purchase. Such deception can be harmful in a relationship. But it’s downright illegal during a divorce proceeding.
When couples divorce, they must fully disclose all assets, income, expenses, and debt. Still some can’t resist the urge to bend the truth to keep a bigger piece of the pie. They may hide or devalue property, underestimate income, overestimate expenses, or exaggerate debt. But there are no little white lies here. Signing a financial affidavit is swearing, under penalty of perjury, that everything stated is 100% accurate. This means admitting to having stock options – even if no one asked.
Anyone who’s seen a courtroom drama on TV knows that lying under oath is a big deal. The punishment may vary from state to state, or even from case to case. It could mean having to pay all of the ex’s attorney and legal fees. It could also mean jail time. It could mean that the whole of the hidden asset gets awarded to the ex, instead of splitting it down the middle. Such was the case for a woman who failed to mention she won $1.3 million in the California lottery 11 days before the divorce. Her quick lapse of memory lost her $650,000.
Don’t let similar stories be written about you. Put everything on the table and trust your divorce attorney to fight for your best interest the right way. If you do suspect that your spouse is a hiding a little something, let your attorney know. Working together is your best strategy for obtaining and equitable divorce settlement agreement.