A divorce case in California involves a lot of complex paperwork, including financial disclosure forms. Under California Law, all spouses have a duty to make a full disclosure of all assets, property, income and debts during a divorce. This is necessary for property division. If you intentionally or carelessly fail to disclose all of your assets in a California divorce, you could face major penalties – including criminal charges.
What Is the Disclosure of Assets During a Divorce?
State law says that a disclosure of assets is required to preserve and protect community assets and liabilities that exist at the date of separation. In California, community property refers to all assets and debts acquired throughout the course of a marriage. Community property is subject to a 50/50 division in a California divorce case, as it is one of the only states that does not use an equitable division law.
The disclosure of assets is a legal requirement according to California Family Code Section 2100. This law states that a full and accurate disclosure of all assets and liabilities in which one or both parties may have an interest must be made early on in the divorce or legal separation process. In addition, both parties have a duty to immediately, fully and accurately remedy any mistake or make updates for changes to a disclosure of assets form before the finalization of the divorce.
What Happens If I Forgot to Disclose an Asset?
If you unintentionally forget to disclose an asset on your financial disclosure forms, it is imperative to amend the document as soon as you realize the mistake. You are legally obligated to update the disclosure form to accurately portray your assets and debts as you know them to be true. Failing to do so could lead to allegations against you of hiding assets to protect them from being divided with your ex-spouse in a divorce. This could result in criminal charges and penalties.
Can I Be Penalized for Not Disclosing an Asset During a Divorce in California?
Yes, you can be penalized for the incomplete disclosure of assets during a divorce case in California. If you are found guilty of attempting to hide assets, you could face a criminal charge known as perjury (California Penal Code Section 118), which claims that you knowingly made a false representation of fact after taking an oath to tell the truth. This could result in a felony charge in California, depending on the circumstances, with penalties such as a fine and jail time.
In addition, California Family Code 1101 allows for the recovery of financial compensation from a spouse who is caught hiding assets in a divorce case. This means you could be held civilly liable for failing to disclose an asset. Your ex-spouse could file a claim against you for a breach of fiduciary duty, potentially resulting in a court order requiring you to pay your ex a certain amount of money as a penalty. The typical remedy is 50 percent of the undisclosed asset, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
How a Divorce Attorney in LA Can Help You
Hiring a divorce lawyer in Los Angeles from the very beginning of your dissolution of marriage can make it easier to fill out and submit all of the forms, paperwork and financial documents that are required of you. You can trust your lawyer to correctly and completely fill out any necessary forms, including the Declaration of Disclosure, to help you avoid making mistakes that could result in serious and even criminal consequences.
If you suspect your ex-spouse of hiding assets, a divorce attorney can investigate the matter for you and potentially help you bring a case against your ex to recover financial compensation for the hidden asset, in addition to your legal fees. For more information about the disclosure of assets in a California divorce case, contact Boyd Law to request a consultation.