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Hiding assets in the property division process is never wise

We'd like to think that in the age of conscious uncoupling that all divorcing couples in Virginia amicably part ways. Unfortunately, emotions can run high in a divorce, causing people to make poor decisions. For example, one spouse might want to try to hide assets from the other spouse to keep those assets out of the marital estate. In other words, the hidden assets would not be subject to property division and the spouse hiding the assets can keep them for himself or herself. This is never a good idea.

First, it is illegal to hide assets in a divorce. The parties to a divorce have an obligation to make all assets and liabilities are known during the property division process. This way both parties can have a full understanding of the contents of their marital estate, so they can divide their assets in a fair and appropriate manner.

If a spouse tries to hide assets, it is likely that they will eventually be caught and will have to suffer the consequences. First, it is possible the spouse hiding assets will have to pay the legal costs the other spouse incurred in unearthing the hidden assets. The spouse who tried to hide the assets may be ordered to relinquish them to the other spouse, and thus would lose them altogether. And, hiding assets seriously damages one's credibility, which could affect the judge's decision on other divorce legal issues.

So, while bitterness and anger might make it tempting to hide assets in a divorce, doing so is never a good idea. Not only is doing so illegal, but it could negatively affect one's reputation and pocketbook. Instead, couples should try to keep their emotions out of the courtroom, and make sure they are honest with one another throughout the property division process.

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