In the world of magic, one of the hardest tricks is to make an object disappear. Magicians spend countless hours working to convincingly make objects vanish from view. Unfortunately, magicians are not the only ones capable of performing disappearing acts. During a divorce, one spouse may try to make assets disappear from the view of the ex-partner. Assets include everything from a piece of property, to a boat, to a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth. Regardless of what form it takes, a hidden asset is an omitted asset.
Spouses may omit assets unintentionally or intentionally. In the unintentional case, the spouse did not purposely hide the asset during divorce proceedings. Instead, the spouse merely forgot about it or mistakenly failed to disclose it on his or her declaration of disclosure. In this case, a couple will remain the co-owners of the asset, sharing it together. A court could order the omitted asset to be divided, but this is typically reserved for cases of intentional omission. In the second instance, one spouse imitates the illusionist David Copperfield and tries to hide an asset from view during the divorce proceedings. If the illusion is discovered, the other spouse may respond with action in court. Using law and motion (formal requests of the court), one spouse can force the other to respond to the charges of deception. The spouse who discovered the asset may also seek sanctions against the hiding spouse to punish him or her and to deter future misconduct. In fact, in some instances, the court can award one hundred (100%) percent of the deliberately hidden asset to the innocent spouse. Collectively, omitted assets exemplify the deception that can, unfortunately, occur during divorce. Stories of omitted assets also illustrate the need for expert legal guidance throughout the divorce process. If you think you are the victim of a deceitful spouse and need legal services, call Feinberg & Waller.