Even though you may have thought you would stay married to your spouse forever, not all marriages are sustainable. If you have decided to divorce your spouse, you likely want to focus on your financial future. Fortunately, if you and your partner have significant wealth, you probably have a solid foundation. 

In California, each spouse receives half of the marital property during a divorce. Of course, you can only receive what is rightfully yours if you know the assets exist. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may try to hide marital wealth from you. There are some serious consequences for doing so, though. 

Criminal consequences 

It is important to understand that hiding assets in the lead-up to a divorce is illegal. When you go through a contested proceeding, you and your spouse must both submit a financial disclosure. Falsifying a financial affidavit constitutes perjury, which is a serious offense. Furthermore, depending on the steps your partner takes to conceal assets from you, he or she may commit fraud, forgery or other crimes. A judge may also hold a dishonest party in contempt of court. 

Monetary consequences 

It is generally difficult to hide assets successfully during divorce proceedings. After all, you and your spouse likely both have legal counsel familiar with uncovering deceptions. Additionally, anyone can contract with a forensic accountant to find missing wealth. 

Nonetheless, a divorcing spouse may try to outsmart everyone. If he or she fails, though, monetary consequences are likely. For example, an irritated judge may award the honest spouse all of the hidden assets, even if it results in that spouse receiving more than a 50% share of marital property. 

Clearly, hiding assets during divorce proceedings is a mistake. If you suspect your partner is likely to try to disguise wealth, you must act diligently to uncover the deception. By understanding the serious consequences that often accompany hidden assets, you can better advocate for the financial outcome you deserve.