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Hiding assets in a divorce may result in their confiscation

Divorcing couples in Georgia may be interested in what happened in the following two high-stakes divorce proceedings. In the first, a woman did not disclose to the family court that she had won $1.3 million in the state lottery only 11 days before she filed for divorce.

When this omission was eventually revealed to the court, the judge decided that she had acted with fraud or malice. As a result of her failure to reveal these assets to the court, the judge awarded her ex-husband all of her lottery winnings instead of the half that he would likely have been entitled to if she had properly disclosed the assets.

In the second divorce story, a husband deliberately hid assets during his divorce trial. However, after the divorce was finalized, the undisclosed assets were discovered. The court then issued a modification of the original divorce settlement agreement after reconsidering the division of the marital property -- with the inclusion of the previously undisclosed assets. At the end of the day, the wife was awarded all of the hidden assets due to her ex-husband's omission.

So what can divorcing parties in Georgia learn from these two divorce stories? There are actually two important lessons. For one, do not hide or omit relevant information concerning your assets, income, expenses or debt during the divorce process. Second, if you suspect that something is not above board, alert your divorce attorney who can work to ensure that you receive your fair share, either during the divorce proceeding or through a modification of an already finalized divorce decree.

Source: Forbes, "What Are the Consequences of Hiding Assets During Divorce?" Jeff Landers, Nov. 14, 2012

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William C. Gentry, Attorney at Law

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