Unfortunately, lying to a family court judge about income or assets is a relatively common practice. Many people believe that they will not get caught if they tweak the state of their finances a little, and hope that by doing so they may get away with paying less in child support or alimony.
The consequences of lying to the court about assets, income, property, or other matters can be severe. If you believe your former spouse is not being truthful about his or her finances, you can take actions which will bring the discrepancies to the court’s attention.
Obligation to be Truthful
Each party to a divorce case has a moral and legal obligation to tell the truth about the state of their financial affairs. During the divorce, both parties will have to sign a financial affidavit, or a declaration of income and expenses, which outlines a person’s assets and debts. These forms are signed under oath, and carry penalties for perjury if they are not truthful.
If a person is caught lying on these affidavits, there can be both civil and criminal penalties. The court has a variety of options, and may choose how to penalize the guilty party. For example, the spouse who lied may be ordered to pay his or her spouse’s attorney fees or other costs and expenses. Alternatively, a spouse who lies about assets or property may be awarded less of the marital property in the divorce settlement than he or she would have been entitled to. In some cases, hiding assets or lying about income can void a prenuptial agreement. In rare situations, a person who consistently lies about his or her finances may face criminal penalties like fines or even jail time.
If you believe that your spouse is hiding assets or lying about his or her income, it is important to speak with your attorney right away. Your attorney will have access to legal methods which can uncover a person’s true financial state.
These methods can include requests for the production of certain documents, like tax returns or bank statements, or requests to answer questions or admit facts under oath. If your spouse refuses to comply with these requests, your attorney could file a motion to compel his or her compliance. If your spouse still refuses, he or she could be held in contempt of court.
In addition, your attorney may schedule a deposition with your former spouse, and ask probing questions under oath which are designed to uncover any deception. Finally, it may be necessary to hire a private investigator or financial auditor in order to find assets which have been skillfully hidden.
Help for Spouses
When your former spouse lies about his or her financial state, you and your children suffer. People have an obligation to support their families during and after a divorce, and those who shirk these responsibilities should face the consequences.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our attorneys are experienced with high-conflict divorces, and know how to hold deceptive spouses accountable. If you are getting a divorce or are navigating a complicated child custody matter, speak with the attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law today. To find out more about your options, call 509-572-3700 to schedule your appointment.