If you are contemplating ending your marriage, you may have some concern about your financial future. Fortunately, California law likely entitles you to a roughly equal share of everything you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse own. 

If you do not know assets exist, you may not be able to advocate effectively for your share of the marital estate. Fortunately, if your spouse hides marital assets in the lead-up to your divorce, he or she may face some serious consequences. 

Loss of the asset

While likely both unethical and illegal, hiding assets is one way to achieve an unfair financial advantage during divorce proceedings. If you uncover the deception with the assistance of a forensic accountant or another financial professional, a judge may award you the asset. The judge may also order your spouse to pay the reasonable expenses of finding the missing marital wealth. 

Contempt of court

Because your divorce is essentially a lawsuit against your spouse, all parties to the suit must comply with court rules. If your husband or wife makes material misrepresentations or otherwise violates this obligation, a judge may hold him or her in contempt of court. 

Possible criminal charges

Depending on how your spouse hides marital assets, he or she may also be vulnerable to criminal charges. That is, when deceiving you, your husband or wife may have committed fraud, perjury or another criminal offense. 

If your spouse is bold, the threat of criminal charges may not be enough to discourage him or her from hiding assets. Therefore, rather than waiting for possible future criminal penalties against your spouse, you probably want to do what you can to identify every part of your marital estate as early in your divorce as possible.