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Hide and seek is no game when it comes to property division

Affairs of the heart are often very painful. When a marriage falls apart, one may experience a variety of emotions. While it is natural for those facing divorce to feel confused and emotional, one should try to avoid acting on those feelings in any way that may compromise one's own position. Property division can be difficult, and sometimes complex, but in a community property state like California, it is highly inadvisable to attempt to hide any assets one owns or to which one has rights.

The concealment of information relating to assets may be done out of spite, or to reduce potential alimony or child support payments. There are a number methods one may employ to commit such fraud. The ownership of real estate and other property may suddenly be transferred to another party. Items of value, such as jewelry or art, may be entrusted to a friend or family member, and its existence simply denied. If one suspects that one's estranged spouse is engaging such tactics, there are actions one may take in order to expose the lies.

Assuming one still has access to the bank records of the estranged spouse, one may find it beneficial to follow the activity on accounts and cards held in that person's name. Cash may be withdrawn more frequently but not accounted for, or high-value purchases may become a new occurrence. One may also employ legal assistance to gain access to the other party's employment records and bank statements. In a high-value divorce case, it may become necessary to take things a step further and engage the services of more experienced agencies to undertake the detective work.

The court will not look favorably on attempts to avoid coming to a fair and equitable settlement. In California, there is no blame attached to either party in the divorce; therefore, property division is unaffected by who hurt whom. Even if one thinks he or she has been successful in hiding assets, the divorce settlement may still be open to review if this is discovered after the divorce has been finalized. Both parties will benefit from seeking advice and guidance that is appropriate to each person's situation, allowing them to move forward to a new beginning.

Source: legalzoom.com, "Penalty for Hiding Assets in a Divorce", Angie Gambone, Accessed on Jan. 27, 2015

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