In California, couples going through divorce proceedings are required – by law – to truthfully disclose all assets and liabilities. This disclosure is done on the initial Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Form FL-100 or the initial response, Form FL-120. These financial affidavits, once completed, are then filed with the court and are considered official court documents. Parties are also required to serve on one another a Declaration of Disclosure which is signed under penalty of perjury and should list all assets, debts, income, and expenses. Sounds straightforward, right?
Well, what if one spouse – in an effort to get a more favorable division of assets – decides to lie about their assets by providing misleading or incomplete information? To that spouse, this may seem like an innocuous act. In the state of California, however, doing so is not only considered unethical, it is illegal as well.
California civil procedure
As is outlined by California’s perjury laws, providing false statements on an affidavit “may result in a perjury charge,” which can be punishable by time in jail, depending on the circumstances.
If evidence is brought forward that shows there was an attempt to conceal assets by means of providing false or misleading information on the financial affidavit, a judge may find the offending spouse in contempt of court. Governed by CCP §1218 of the California Code, an individual found to be in contempt of court may face fines or imprisonment. Additionally, the individual may also be required to pay back attorney’s fees and costs, depending on the situation.
Discovering hidden assets and taking action
Whether out of fear, frustration, greed, spite or because of other reasons, there will likely always be people who will lie about or hide their assets, despite the serious consequences that can occur. As such, it is important for individuals to know how to spot financial infidelity and what legal action to take against the offending party to ensure a fair distribution of marital assets in the end.