If you are going through a divorce, it is important for you to have a complete sense of the financial picture. The unfortunate reality is that some spouses stoop to hiding assets to improve their own financial position in a divorce. For this reason, among others, you should seek assistance from a skilled San Diego divorce attorney who understands the process of property valuation in California. For nearly 30 years, Roseline D. Feral has been committed to finding hidden assets and protecting the property rights of her clients. She will make every effort to make sure that you get accurate information about your spouse’s finances.Determining the Distribution of Assets
California is a community property state. This means that any wealth or assets acquired during the marriage is divided in half under the Family Code of California. This does not automatically mean that each asset or bank account needs to be split exactly 50/50. Instead, each spouse is entitled to half of the net value of the assets. For example, if there are two vehicles, and they are worth approximately the same amount of money, one spouse may take each vehicle. Other typical examples of community property include bank accounts, real estate, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, vehicles, and artwork.
Separate property is distinct from marital property. Separate property commonly includes any property that one spouse owned before getting married, obtained during the marriage through gift or inheritance, or acquired after the spouses were legally separated. Unlike community property, separate property does not need to be divided when a couple is divorcing.
Under California law, an automatic temporary restraining order is set in place as soon as the divorce is filed. This is done in order to lock the couple’s assets and prevent either spouse from moving or disposing of assets without the knowledge and consent of the other.
In each divorce, a full financial disclosure is required. This process allows the spouses to exchange information about their property, debts, income, and expenses. The forms that must be filled out are the Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-140), the Income & Expense Declaration (Form FL-150), the Schedule of Assets and Debts (Form FL-142), and the Declaration of Service of Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-141).
It is important to fill out financial disclosure forms accurately because a failure to do so may have serious consequences for the spouse who does not. We can thoroughly review disclosure documents as well as comb through the necessary records to discover any hidden assets and suspicious activity, such as:
- Offshore accounts;
- Questionable business accounting;
- Questionable transfers of money; or
- Stock options, retirement plans, and bonuses.
It is important to note that California law permits filing a post-judgment motion to divide a hidden asset under California Family Code Section 2556. California family law courts have continuing jurisdiction to divide any assets or liabilities that were not disclosed or properly handled originally. Thus, if your spouse failed to include an asset in the initial disclosure, the court has the authority to divide the asset equally at a later date unless there is a showing of “good cause” for the court to do otherwise.
If the court finds that a spouse intentionally hid assets, that spouse may face a variety of penalties, including assessing sanctions or awarding the entire asset to the other spouse. In addition, hiding assets may result in perjury charges that may lead to prison time. Of course, the consequences of omitting assets will depend on the specific circumstances of the case.Contact a Divorce Attorney in San Diego
Unfortunately, when two people are getting divorced, one person may hide assets. A seasoned San Diego lawyer can help you identify hidden assets and uncover important information. Discovering hidden assets may be a complicated process, which is why you should not delay in contacting an attorney. We represent people in Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista, among other Southern California cities. To discuss your next steps in more detail, contact us online or call our office at 619-232-1010 for an appointment with a property division lawyer. Alternatively, you can also contact Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191.