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Never hide assets during a divorce

Divorce is rarely pleasant. After all, not only must you separate from the person you thought you would be with forever, but you may also face a potentially shaky financial future. If you want to improve your economic position, you may think about stashing away marital assets until the divorce concludes. Doing so, though, is a terrible idea. 

In Virginia, marriage is an economic partnership involving both spouses. Upon divorce, each party should receive an equitable share of marital wealth. This approach assumes, of course, that both spouses know about all marital assets. If one spouse hides assets, the other spouse may not receive his or her fair share. The hiding spouse may also face some consequences. 

Contempt of court 

Judges do not look kindly on deceptive behavior. If you hide assets, a judge may hold you in contempt of court. That is, hiding assets usually qualifies as willfully interrupting a court proceeding. To rectify the situation, the judge in your case may take a variety of steps. Not insignificantly, contempt of court can land you in jail. 

Criminal conduct 

Sometimes, hiding assets involves committing fraud, perjury or other criminal offenses. Depending on the severity of the conduct, you may face either misdemeanor or felony charges. Put simply, if you are in prison, you likely cannot benefit from the assets you hid during divorce proceedings. 

Property distribution 

You may consider hiding assets as a means of improving your post-divorce financial situation. The conduct may have the opposite effect. If a judge learns of the scheme, he or she may award your partner a disproportionate share of marital property. This could result in you receiving significantly less than you may otherwise have. 

While divorce can take a tremendous toll on both your mental health and your pocketbook, you do not want to hide assets. If you do, you may make an already unsteady situation even worse.

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