Tips from Chandler family law attorney

Are There Consequences and Penalties for Hiding Assets in A Divorce?

Divorces can be messy and complicated, but one thing you never want to do is hide assets when you’re going through a divorce. A legal requirement for divorcing couples is disclosing all assets they have, which includes debt, income, and expenses.

When one partner has more than the other, it may be tempting to cheat or lie to keep more of an asset to themselves. Although it’s illegal to hide assets in a divorce, some people still do it, especially if they’re the higher income earner.

People hide assets for a variety of reasons, but the main one usually is not having to share the majority of their money with their divorcing partner. These people often use a variety of “dirty tricks” to lie, including undervaluing, hiding or understating marital property.

They might also overstate debts or report a lower income than they actually have. The person hiding assets in a divorce does so to keep more property or assets for themselves and want to prevent their ex from getting a fair settlement.

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, about 31% of US adults who have assets with their spouse mention that they’ve lied about money in their marriage. While it can be either party in a marriage, many times it’s more likely for men to lie about their assets than women.

Lying during a divorce proceeding is not only wrong and unfair, but it’s also illegal. The rules of civil procedure indicate that when an individual signs a court document that they are agreeing to the fact that the contents of the document are true and correct.

So, when a couple of signs the Financial Affidavit required in every contested and some uncontested divorce cases, they are swearing that they are telling the truth about all their finances. This includes all debts, income, assets, expenses, liabilities and more.

Because lying about one’s assets in a divorce case is illegal, it’s essential to hire a skilled divorce lawyer to handle the case. Having someone with professional expertise will help a divorcing person stay on the right side of the law and will still have your financial future in their best interests.

A divorce attorney will ensure that you’re not only telling the truth about your assets but that your ex-spouse is doing the same so that the divorce settlement is as fair as possible.

What Happens If You Lie About Assets in A Divorce?

If you lie under oath, you will face some serious consequences. Although penalties for hiding assets in a divorce will vary from state to state (and even case to case), you’ll still be in blatant contempt of the court no matter where your divorce is finalized.

If a judge finds out that someone is knowingly violating asset disclosure laws, then the judge might make them pay for their ex-spouse’s attorney fees and fines. Or the judge will dismiss all of the lying party’s claims. For more serious cases, jail time can be given to the person hiding assets in a divorce case.

The judge might also make you pay additional penalties and provide your ex-spouse with a larger distribution in the divorce settlement (or even the entire amount), instead of splitting it if you were honest from the start.

If you lie about your assets or try to hide them, you’ll also lose all respect and credibility by the judge for the duration of your case. The fact that you lied about assets will make the judge think that you’re lying about other things in the rest of the divorce process.

How to Uncover Hidden Assets?

There are different things a person can do to try and uncover the truth about hidden assets their ex-spouse might be hiding. The first is to hire a private investigator to follow around your ex-spouse to see if they use a bank you didn’t know about if they actually work full time.

You can also employ a forensic accountant, who is a financial expert and will look at all the family’s finances to see if there is money being hidden. They’ll be able to help you figure out if there are secret accounts or if expenses are more than the income your ex-spouse claims to bring home.

During a divorce, the court will allow divorcing spouses to seek out certain information during the discovery phase of the case. This is where you can subpoena various people to come to help you plead your case. You can subpoena your ex-spouse’s employer and get records or even get their bank statements.

In some cases, you might not find out about hidden assets until after the divorce is finalized. You may learn later that your ex-spouse earns more than he claimed during the divorce process, sold a property they had during your marriage or more.

If this happens, you can still get them in trouble and have a fair settlement. You simply have to file a motion in court about the hidden asset in the court your divorce was finalized and ask that your case be reopened.

However, amending a divorce agreement is much easier if you live in a community property state, which means that all assets earned in a marriage are now joint assets. But inequitable distribution states, the court might not change the final divorce settlement.

In these states, you’ll need to do a lot of research during the divorce process and anything found afterward won’t be held up in court. But you could still sue your ex-spouse in civil court, claiming monetary damages.

Things You Need to Know When It Comes to Taxes and Divorce

There’s a lot of things that you need to think about when divorcing your spouse. Things like assets, children, property and even taxes are all issues you’ll need to discuss and agree on in order to have a final divorce settlement that everyone agrees on.

While child custody and alimony are important issues when getting a divorce, you also need to consider your taxes. If you don’t consider them, both divorcing parties can face very costly and frustrating tax consequences that will hurt your finances.

When you get a divorce, you’re most likely not thinking about long-term taxes. You just want to finalize it all so that this stressful experience in life is done with and behind you. You want to get on with your new life away from your ex, but if you don’t consider taxes, your troubles will follow you.

Poor tax planning can rear its ugly head much later – even years after a divorce. Tax problems are never easy and are oftentimes very costly to resolve, only adding to your stress and headaches.

You’ll want to plan accordingly so that you and your divorcing spouse don’t have to deal with tax problems later on. Paying attention to tax issues during the negotiation and settlement process can help avoid expensive missteps so that couples can disentangle their financial lives is the easiest way possible during a divorce. Here are some helpful things you should know regarding tax consideration for divorcing spouses:

  1. Choose the Right Time to Divorce: Although you might want to part ways as soon as possible from your spouse, you’ll want to choose the right time to finalize everything. There are situations in which waiting to finalize it all until after December 31 can help with your taxes.

If one spouse earns a lot more than the other, having to file as single could mean a higher tax bill since the tax bracket for single tax filers is a lot less forgiving than those filing as married. But if both parties earn good money, filing jointly could place them in a higher tax bracket, thus making them pay more in the end. You’ll want to talk to a CPA regarding which route would be more financially advantageous.

  1. Figuring the Right Tax Filing Status: Tax filing status is determined by your marital status on the last day of the tax calendar year, which is December 31st.  If the divorce isn’t finalized by the last day of the year, then the divorcing couple will need to figure out if they should file a joint return as normal or if they should file “married filing separately.”

Normally, joint tax returns could mean lower taxes for both parties. But doing so also means that both are responsible for any interest and penalties due to their taxes. After the divorce is settled, both parties can file as “head of household” if they have a dependent who lives with them. This is a better filing than “single.”

  1.   Figuring Out Who Gets Any Tax Credits: Divorcing parties need to know the rules the IRS uses for sorting out tax credits. A dependent can’t be claimed by more than one person, which means if the divorcing party has kids, things can get messy when it comes to taxes.

A parent who has physical custody of a child is entitled to claiming the Child Tax Credit, but there are times where a non-custodial parent can claim it. Plus, it might be possible to structure the divorce settlement so that one parent gets the credit one year and then the other parent files for the credit the next.

  1.   Transferring Property, The Best Way Possible: Usually, property transfers that are made during a divorce are non-taxable events when it comes to federal income. But there are certain situations where it might make more sense to skip the tax-free treatment and instead make it a taxable event by structuring the transfer as a “true sale,” a year after the divorce settlement is finalized. This allows the spouse who purchases the property from their ex to benefit on their taxes.
  2.   The Value of Tax Carryovers: You’ll want to recognize the value of tax carryovers when negotiating how liabilities and assets should be divided in a divorce. These include things like net operating losses, capital losses, charitable deductions, and passive activity losses, which are all thought to have an inherent value similar to property.

You don’t want to wait until tax time to start talking about negotiations since it might be too late to benefit from the value of tax carryovers.

  1. The Right Solution for Alimony: Alimony payments are common in divorces. But spousal support might not always be the best option for the spouse that earns less. It might actually be better to set them up with a trust that provides them with payouts and then have those assets revert back to the grantor (or even children) if not used entirely.

When going through a divorce, you shouldn’t forget about your taxes because they will play a significant role in the divorce settlement. You’ll want to enlist the help of a local divorce attorney to help you figure out what sort of tax considerations you should plan for.

Your divorce lawyer will be able to help provide you with an objective perspective on various decisions during the divorce process. This will make the entire process a lot easier and create a settlement that’s structured with your best interests in mind.

Couple arguing during divorce proceedings

Differences Between Uncontested and Contested Divorces

Divorce is never an easy thing. It’s an emotional, draining, scary, frustrating and challenging event in anyone’s life. If you’re thinking about getting a divorce or are beginning the process of undergoing one, the more information you have, the more comfortable you’ll be during this difficult time in your life. Knowing your options will allow you to do what’s best for you and your family so that you can get passed this time of your life and move on.

Before you meet with your Chandler divorce lawyer, it’s good to know about the different types of divorces. That way you’ll better understand what your lawyer will explain to you in more depth. There are two types of divorce cases: contested and uncontested.

Both are complex, but the real difference between the two is the ability for both parties to come to an agreement on all aspects of the case. If the two spouses can’t agree on the terms of the divorce, the case will have to go to court and it could be a lengthy battle.

However, both uncontested and contested divorces have their own advantages and disadvantages and choosing one over the other will ultimately depend on the type of relationship you have with your ex-partner if you have children and assets that are shared.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce Case?

Typically, an uncontested divorce case is one where both parties can come to terms on an agreement on all aspects of their divorce, including the kids, property, assets and more. Usually, uncontested divorce cases are amicable and are shorts. Individuals filing for an uncontested divorce need to so on “No-Fault” grounds in legal terms “in-supportability.”

This just means that the marriage has broken down because the two parties are incompatible with one another and neither have the expectation of reconciling again.

In order for an uncontested divorce case to be successful, both parties much agree on all child custody matters and marital assets and debts.  The parties must agree to matters relating to shared parenting and the split of all debts, assets, and property. They must also voluntarily sign all necessary paperwork and documents without any hostile arguments, too.

Given the ease of an uncontested divorce case, it’s acceptable to file without the need for legal representation. However, it’s not advised as both parties can easily overlook very important aspects of their particular divorce case and situation.

This can then result in an unenforceable divorce by the court. It’s better to have a Chandler divorce attorney by your side during an uncontested divorce case to ease the process and make sure everything is correct so that you don’t run into any difficulties later on. Having representation will make the entire divorce process seamless, so you now have one less than to worry about during this important transition of your life.

What Is A Contested Divorce Case?

Sometimes, divorce cases are so amicable. Usually, when things get ugly, spouses won’t come to see eye-to-eye on various divorce terms, which leads to a contested divorce. You’ll definitely want to seek representation from a Chandler divorce lawyer for a contested divorce case.

When spouses can’t agree on the divorce settlement, the case is now considered to be a contested divorce that requires a reputable and skilled attorney. Contested divorce cases usually require mediation, arbitration and can possibly go to trial. They are a lot longer than an uncontested divorce and can become very complex, especially with child custody battles, large marital estates and complex division of property and more.

There are numerous proceedings and steps that spouses will go through in a contested divorce. While there’s no exact timeframe, these divorces can drag on for months at a time before it’s all finalized. Steps that parties complete before the divorce is finalized include filing all the legal paperwork, serving the papers to the appropriate parties, court-ordered mediation before hearing or a temporary orders hearing and then counterpetition/responding.

From there, you’ll go through the discovery process, pre-trial hearings and motions, negotiations or mediation and finally the trial. If applicable, you might be able to appeal the final decision on your contested divorce case if the outcome is not in your favor or what you initially wanted.

It’s not uncommon for a divorce to start out as uncontested, but as things progress and the two spouses can’t agree on terms, the case can easily escalate to a contested divorce case.

Common reasons why divorce would be contested include:

  • A spouse hiding assets
  • A combative divorce where spouses can’t work amicably together to separate
  • A dishonest spouse
  • A cheating spouse with proof of infidelity
  • A spouse lying about finances
  • Auguring over the division of property
  • Conflicting views on parenting and child support or custody
  • An abusive marriage
  • The simple fact that spouses can’t communicate effectively during the divorce process

While many want to know how long a contested divorce will last, the truth is that it’s hard to say. The entire process can take a few months to even as long as a few years in really complex contested divorce cases. But usually, the more the spouses can agree and cooperate on various matters, the smoother and faster the entire contested divorce will go.

Because divorce can be a challenging event, it’s better to seek legal advice and representation from a Chandler divorce lawyer. A knowledgeable divorce attorney will be able to safely help and guide you through a contested or uncontested divorce.

Everything from the initial documents you’ll need for your consultation to working on all the court orders and more, a Chandler divorce attorney will help you throughout your entire case. Give us a call today at (480) 470-3030.

Benefits of having a divorce lawyer

The Difficulty of a Divorce Case Without an Attorney

You might be tempted to try and go through a divorce without seeking representation from a divorce lawyer. But before you actually do it know it’s a long and challenging road given the complexity of divorce cases.

The biggest reason why people want to go through a divorce without a lawyer representing them is the costs associated with legal representation. However, in reality, the disadvantages associated with going through a divorce on your own can really outweigh all that money you saved.

Not only do Chandler divorce attorneys know the law and all of its intricate details, rules, and regulations, but they also know what points need to be argued and how to effectively argue them.

After all, they went to school to know the ins and out of divorce proceedings, so they understand the divorce process and what’s needed to tip the case in your favor. Plus, the court system can be very complex. If you don’t fill out forms and papers correctly, your case can be thrown out or it can prolong the process.

A Chandler divorce lawyer will know how to properly deal with all the nuances of the courts. They’ve also experienced with the legal process and are knowledgeable of court etiquette. Despite the fact that many divorce cases don’t actually make it to court, Chandler divorce attorneys understand that much of the litigation process of divorce happens outside of the courtroom.

When people try to represent themselves in a divorce, they’re actually doing a poor job and causing an extra burden on the local courts. Trying to go through the legal system when filing a divorce with no guidance or real knowledge of the process can actually slow down the court.

Although these people try to save money to make the process easier, they’re actually making it more work for themselves and all parties involved.

They think that they can easily figure out the process as they go along, but the legal system isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are a lot of legal terms that the general public might not understand, thus hurting your divorce case in the long run.

More Huge Drawbacks to Self-Representation for A Divorce

A huge drawback to a self-represented divorce is the fact that you won’t know how to address certain issues that can arise during a divorce case. And the fact that you don’t know what to look for can be very devastating to your case. Not knowing what issues need addressing can really haunt you in the long run.    

Then there’s the problem of objectivity. Since you’re representing yourself, there’s no objectivity, which can really hurt your divorce case. You won’t be able to shake any subjective perception of the case because you only see it from your side.

A Chandler divorce lawyer will always be objective about the facts in your case and will find a way to show you in the best light possible.

You Get to Do All the Paperwork

Unless you love paperwork, when you ditch legal representation for your divorce, you’re stuck doing all the tedious tasks that come along with it like endless paperwork. There are many forms that need to be filed during the divorce process and a Chandler divorce lawyer will handle it all when they take on your case.

But if not, you’ll need to go through and read the very complex agreements and paperwork before signing and filing them with the court. Many require meticulous review that you’re not trained to do or respond to. However, all this paperwork is imperative to your case and needs to be completed before you stand before a judge.

Additional Stress

Because the divorce process is difficult and complex, it’ll be a stressful time in your life. Adding more stress to your situation isn’t recommended. However, representing yourself in a divorce case can add even more stress to your life.

You’ll find that the demand for timelines, the confusion of documents and lingo and the frustrations you might experience with the courts can all add up and add more stress to your already booked and chaotic life.

A Chandler divorce lawyer will help ease the stress of it all by guiding you through the process as gently as possible. They’ll handle all the hard work and simply notify you on things you need to bring, sign, do and more. Plus, a lawyer can really help you get through the emotional rollercoaster of a divorce.

Some divorce cases can really inflict a lot of trauma, so a skilled and experienced divorce lawyer can help you manage all the emotional stress in order to instill confidence to help you get through this difficult time.

It’s Not in The Best Interest for Your Family

If you have a family, a self-represented divorce isn’t in the best interest of your family despite being good on your wallet. If your divorce requires custody, child support or other issues dealing with children, then it’s in your family’s best interests to seek professional help from an experienced Chandler divorce lawyer.

Things can get messy when kids are involved, and you want to ensure that everything is done correctly so that the children are protected as much as possible to reduce any trauma or unease they might be experiencing.

A knowledgeable divorce lawyer will evaluate the situation and your entire case in order to increase the odds of having a good outcome for the entire family, especially the children.

Going through a divorce without a lawyer is never a good idea. The majority of the time, your case won’t end well, and it might cost you more stress, headaches, time and even money in the long run than if you would have just hired a divorce attorney from the start.

A divorce lawyer at Shaffer Family Law in Chandler will help guide you every step of the way and look out for your family’s best interests as they work to achieve the best outcome possible.

Career and Divorce

Here’s How Divorce Can Influence Your Job

A divorce can affect more than just your personal life — it can change your professional life too. While most people focus primarily on the emotional stresses and personal issues that come with divorce, there are other sensible concerns that need your attention. Another thing to think about too is that it is common for a person leaving a marriage to rethink their career.

For example, if you’re a full-time employee and a parent, there’s a chance you’ll have to adjust to your new life as a single parent by cutting back the hours you work. On the other hand, if you weren’t working during your marriage, you might need a job to help support yourself.

Whatever the circumstances, there is a high chance that your career will be impacted by your divorce in some way. In order to be prepared for this potential change, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Changing Your Priorities at Work

While you’re going through your divorce, you’ll be very busy. From meetings with your attorney and talking to a financial advisor or accountant to court dates and collecting information and documents, you’re going to have your hands full.

Unfortunately, some of your divorce tasks may require you to do things during the workday. Your attorney or bank may call you while you’re in a meeting, or you’ll need to make an appointment over lunch or go to court on a weekday. There are many reasons you’ll need some flexibility at your job throughout the divorce process.

Many need to use paid time off for court dates and other necessary appointments that fall on workdays. You can also discuss your situation with your manager and figure out how much flexibility you have to work with. Don’t be afraid to let them know about your needs but be practical about balancing work and your personal life.

Re-Entering the Labor Force

Many stay-at-home parents and unemployed/under-employed spouses are usually forced to reenter the workforce after a divorce. This is usually because they need to pay for a new home, food, clothes, and other essentials.

While a stay-at-home spouse could receive spousal support as part of the divorce agreement, though many times it is temporary or may not be enough for the person to remain unemployed.

Even going back to work, even part-time, can be quite challenging, especially if you haven’t worked for a long period of time. If you have a degree or have had a career in the past, it could be easier, but in any case, it may be helpful to consider taking educational classes to refresh your skills.

Start Planning Early

Depending on your situation, there are a number of ways you can make this new transition for yourself and your family easier. If you do have children, try asking for relatives and close friends for help. Even if it’s just in the beginning as you and your ex-spouse finalize all the details.

Childcare can be very expensive, so you will need to figure out how you can care for your children while you work or at least consider that staying home may be the best option for the meantime.

Even if you don’t have children, it could be beneficial to look at your budget and figure out where you stand. Ask yourself:

  • Will you need a job that pays more?
  • Do you need more work hours?
  • Are you going to change your schedule?
  • What will your monthly costs be?

When it comes down to it, only you know the answers to these questions and it’s up to you to step up and get it done! You need to sit down with everything you need to get done and fully grasp your situation. The sooner the better. Give Shaffer Family Law a call at (480) 470-3030 today and we can help you make your divorce process as simple as possible.

Benefits of Divorce

Little-Known Benefits of Divorce

Our Chandler Divorce Lawyers are here to give you the advice you need to get the results you desire. Ultimately, divorce is terrible. From the cost of hiring a lawyer to lose an additional income, divorce can come at a high price.

In addition, it is common for people to walk away from the proceedings with a lot fewer assets and savings for retirement. And on top of everything else, it also takes an emotional toll on a person. However, divorce doesn’t isn’t all bad, especially when it comes to financial benefits it can come with.

While not a reason to run out and get a divorce, here’s a few financial benefits that could make a sad situation seem a little better.

  1. Easier and more control over budgeting: The end of a marriage often means the end of fights over the finances. No more trying to figure out the priorities in the budget, especially if you’ve spent the past few years persuading or pleading your now ex-spouse to cut back on spending. 
  2. Early access to your retirement fund: A little known fact is that divorce is one of the few times you would be able to access your retirement account early and not be penalized for the early withdrawal. Though, it’s important to be careful when taking money out of your retirement account. It can be a risky move, but it is a nice option for the newly divorced when they may not otherwise have one.
  3. Better returns on investments: Divorce could mean better investment returns, especially for women. Men tend to be more aggressive when it comes to investments and take more risks. Divorce is a good time for women to take charge of their own retirement planning, which could be positive financially in the long run.
  4. Financial aid for the kids: Divorce has been known to be difficult for children. One good thing for them involves college financial aid. When it comes to signing up with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, you are only required to submit financial information from the parent that has full custody, instead of financial information both parents. Of course, child support and alimony received from the non-custodial parent will need to be included for FAFSA, though any additional financial assistance is helpful.
  5. Older divorcees have Social Security perks: Divorced spouses may be able to file for Social Security spousal benefits when they reach retirement age. You’re eligible for these benefits if you and your ex were married for at least 10 years. The best thing about this is your ex-spouse doesn’t even know you’re doing it and it won’t impact their benefits.
  6. Reevaluate financial priorities: While people are sometimes angered by the lifestyle changes caused by divorce, there is actually a lot of opportunities for them to rethink priorities and start fresh. Even major adjustments, such as giving up property, can be beneficial in the long run. It could be better financially a smaller house or even an apartment.

Divorce doesn’t have to mean a dwindled down bank account. Even with less income, divorced people can build wealth if they use their resources wisely. Of course, not everyone’s financial situation will improve with divorce, but it’s surprising how it can improve.

It’s important to remember that getting a divorce isn’t something you should rush into, but if you find yourself in a marriage that isn’t working, don’t give up hope. You may still come out ahead when it comes to the financial benefits of divorce.

At Shaffer Family Law, we understand the fine details of the legal system and will give you the guidance you need to get through the divorce process, answer your questions, and be an advocate for you. If you are ready to move forward, we invite you to give us a call at (480) 470-3030 today.

Retirement (401k) Assets used in a Divorce

What Will My Spouse Get from A 401K Retirement Plan During A Divorce?

There are a few circumstances where you won’t get penalized for touching your 401K retirement plan early and divorce is one of them. A 401K retirement plan is considered an asset and, in a divorce, you’ll have to figure out what spouse gets what asset (or if they are evenly split down the middle).

Splitting retirement plans and assets can be an added headache and stress in an already emotionally draining divorce case. In some cases, a 401K retirement plan is a divorcing couple’s biggest asset.

If the division of these assets isn’t done by a knowledgeable divorce attorney, then both parties can expect expensive taxes, harsh penalties and more money than intended going to an ex-spouse.

How A 401K Retirement Plan Is Split During A Divorce

Splitting a 401K retirement plan happens in three steps. First, a divorcee decree is ordered for the division since it’s one of the qualifying circumstances for early withdrawal with no penalties. A divorce lawyer will need to draw up a domestic relations order that is a legal document referred to as a QDRO.

This document explains to the administrator of your retirement plan that it must divide the 401K so that it complies with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Then a judge will need to approve and sign the QDRO order before the 401K administrator signs off on the division of the asset. What the QDO does is establish your ex-spouse as an “alternate payee,” which makes them another person to receive payment from the plan.

Transfer Incident To Divorce Versus QDRO

Proper handling of your assets in a divorce is important, ensuring that the right person will pay for any applicable taxes. The type of retirement plan you will split will determine the rules that you’ll have to follow.

Even if you and your ex-spouse will divide your IRAs and any qualified plans in the same manner, there’s a separate legal term that applies to the type of division you use. IRAs are different from 401k plans and are divided using a transfer incident to divorce rather than a QDRO.

Some courts label both types of assets as QDROs, but you’ll need to clearly choose the category of which your asset falls into when submitting the information to the judge so that it’s listed right in the divorce agreement.

If you don’t, you’ll end up running into unnecessary complications that could be costly. Because things can get confusing, it’s usually best to hire a financial expert to help with the division of assets, especially IRAs and 401k retirement plans.

How A 401k Retirement Plan Is Distributed

There are three options for your ex-spouse to choose from when it comes to the distribution payments of your 401k plan. First, the QDRO must explain the method that they choose, and the plan administrator will then begin the distribution process.

First, they can roll over their portion of your 401k into their own retirement plan or simply leave their share with yours in the existing retirement plan. They’ll then take their portion, or payments, when you retire, too. Or, they can choose to accept the money as a cash payment when the divorce is finalized.

There are penalties associated with a lump sum withdrawal from a retirement account after a divorce. If your ex-spouse is under the age of 59 ½ and wants the cash, that payment will most likely get hit with a 10% withdrawal penalty.

Plus, they’ll have to report that payment to the IRS so that it’s taxed and if that lump sum of cash is very large, it can even be taxed in a higher tax bracket.

What You Should Do To Protect Your 401k

If you’re getting divorced or even considering it, you’ll want to make sure that you get your finances in order now about how you want your retirement plans to be divided. You’ll want to better understand the general rules of how your plans work and what will happen when they are split.

Also, not that there are different laws and rules related to the division of retirement and pension assets depending on what state you live in. You’ll need to do your homework to find out what rules your state has about the matter.

You’ll also want to get a professional divorce attorney to represent you. Even if dividing the other assets, you have seemed straightforward, it’s better to have a skilled divorce lawyer on your side to review the division of all pension and retirement assets. If you’re uneducated on this matter, you’ll lose a lot of money in the long run.

If you and your ex-spouse can’t agree on the division of assets, then you’ll need to involve the legal system to decide on the split, which will be declared by the court. But there are other methods to use for divorce proceedings, such as mediation or collaborative proceeding.

These two methods allow you to take control back so that you and your ex-spouse can decide on the terms of the split instead of the court. The courts will make their decision on the subject of your asset division based on a variety of factors as well as the laws of the state in which you live.

Other factors are how much you both made during your marriage and the contributions and roles played by both parties throughout the marriage.

Couple fight over money in a divorce

Are There Consequences and Penalties for Hiding Assets in A Divorce?

Divorces can be messy and complicated, but one thing you never want to do is hide assets when you’re going through a divorce. A legal requirement for divorcing couples is disclosing all assets they have, which includes debt, income, and expenses.

When one partner has more than the other, it may be tempting to cheat or lie to keep more of an asset to themselves. Although it’s illegal to hide assets in a divorce, some people still do it, especially if they’re the higher income earner.

People hide assets for a variety of reasons, but the main one usually is not having to share the majority of their money with their divorcing partner. These people often use a variety of “dirty tricks” to lie, including undervaluing, hiding or understating marital property.

They might also overstate debts or report a lower income than they actually have. The person hiding assets in a divorce does so to keep more property or assets for themselves and want to prevent their ex from getting a fair settlement.

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, about 31% of US adults who have assets with their spouse mention that they’ve lied about money in their marriage. While it can be either party in a marriage, many times it’s more likely for men to lie about their assets than women.

Lying during a divorce proceeding is not only wrong and unfair, but it’s also illegal. The rules of civil procedure indicate that when an individual signs a court document that they are agreeing to the fact that the contents of the document are true and correct.

So, when a couple of signs the Financial Affidavit required in every contested and some uncontested divorce cases, they are swearing that they are telling the truth about all their finances. This includes all debts, income, assets, expenses, liabilities and more.

Because lying about one’s assets in a divorce case is illegal, it’s essential to hire a skilled divorce lawyer to handle the case. Having someone with professional expertise will help a divorcing person stay on the right side of the law and will still have your financial future in their best interests.

A divorce attorney will ensure that you’re not only telling the truth about your assets but that your ex-spouse is doing the same so that the divorce settlement is as fair as possible.

What Happens If You Lie About Assets in A Divorce?

If you lie under oath, you will face some serious consequences. Although penalties for hiding assets in a divorce will vary from state to state (and even case to case), you’ll still be in blatant contempt of the court no matter where your divorce is finalized.

If a judge finds out that someone is knowingly violating asset disclosure laws, then the judge might make them pay for their ex-spouse’s attorney fees and fines. Or the judge will dismiss all of the lying party’s claims. For more serious cases, jail time can be given to the person hiding assets in a divorce case.

The judge might also make you pay additional penalties and provide your ex-spouse with a larger distribution in the divorce settlement (or even the entire amount), instead of splitting it if you were honest from the start.

If you lie about your assets or try to hide them, you’ll also lose all respect and credibility by the judge for the duration of your case. The fact that you lied about assets will make the judge think that you’re lying about other things in the rest of the divorce process.

How to Uncover Hidden Assets?

There are different things a person can do to try and uncover the truth about hidden assets their ex-spouse might be hiding. The first is to hire a private investigator to follow around your ex-spouse to see if they use a bank you didn’t know about if they actually work full time.

You can also employ a forensic accountant, who is a financial expert and will look at all the family’s finances to see if there is money being hidden. They’ll be able to help you figure out if there are secret accounts or if expenses are more than the income your ex-spouse claims to bring home.

During a divorce, the court will allow divorcing spouses to seek out certain information during the discovery phase of the case. This is where you can subpoena various people to come to help you plead your case. You can subpoena your ex-spouse’s employer and get records or even get their bank statements.

In some cases, you might not find out about hidden assets until after the divorce is finalized. You may learn later that your ex-spouse earns more than he claimed during the divorce process, sold a property they had during your marriage or more.

If this happens, you can still get them in trouble and have a fair settlement. You simply have to file a motion in court about the hidden asset in the court your divorce was finalized and ask that your case be reopened.

However, amending a divorce agreement is much easier if you live in a community property state, which means that all assets earned in a marriage are now joint assets. But inequitable distribution states, the court might not change the final divorce settlement.

In these states, you’ll need to do a lot of research during the divorce process and anything found afterward won’t be held up in court. But you could still sue your ex-spouse in civil court, claiming monetary damages.

Looking For An Arizona Divorce or Family Law Attorney?

The law is tricky and can be very confusing, complex and difficult to comprehend and fully understand. To help, you’ll need to hire the best divorce lawyer in Arizona! While many believe that they might be able to go about divorce, child custody, child support or alimony situation on their own, the truth is that they probably won’t be successful without the help from a qualified Chandler divorce lawyer.

While you can always represent yourself (also classified as “pro se litigants”), it’s always better to simply hire the Arizona divorce lawyer that you meet within the end. Hiring a professional will make the entire process easier for you, especially if you’re already going through a very difficult time in your life. Here are some reasons why you’ll want to bite the bullet and simply hire the Arizona divorce attorney you initially wanted to go with:

  1.   Legal Advocacy and Protection: Family law can be very complicated, which is why it’s better to leave it up to a professional who knows what they are doing. There are literally hundreds of different statues to know and stay on top of in the legal world, and you’d have to know all the outcomes of past court cases if you want to be successful.

If one party is not represented and the other party is, you’ll easily get taken advantage of given your lack of knowledge. Hiring the Arizona divorce lawyer you feel the most comfortable with will protect your legal rights and fight for you. They’ll protect your rights throughout the entire process so that you aren’t taken advantage of.

You’ll have a way better outcome if you have a professional Chandler divorce attorney on your side than if you don’t! They’ll know what you’re reasonably entitled to, what issues to properly prepare for and how to handle false allegations and evidence.

  1.   Bullying Prevention: Many times, one party will make crazy threats out of frustration or as a way to intimidate or bully. This happens quite often in divorce proceedings and the harassed party will end up in submission because they fear the threats are true. But having the best Arizona divorce lawyer by your side can eliminate this occurrence from happening, keeping the other party in check.

Plus, if you have a Chandler divorce attorney handling the case, you won’t have to worry about getting harassed by the other party’s lawyer. You won’t have to talk directly to them or deal with them since your own attorney will handle communication at all times.

  1.   Peace of mind: Going through a divorce or a custody battle can take a lot of out of you. You’ll most likely be stressed, emotional and frustrated by the entire situation. A lot of this stress might come from feeling as if you’re not in control of everything or fear of what’s going to happen next. Hiring a Chandler divorce attorney can help ease all that stress. They’ll be able to help you comprehend what’s happening every step of the way so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by it all.

They’ll also keep you in the loop of everything and will provide you with the best legal options to help increase your chances of winning the case. You’ll be able to fully understand everything so that you don’t sign or agree to something that you’ll regret later on.

  1.   Proper Fillings and Procedures: The amount of paperwork involved with a divorce or custody battle can be intimidating. However, a Chandler divorce lawyer will help you fill out everything correctly, keep a calendar of important dates for you and file it all within the necessary time frame. In court, there are specific formats and ways to fill out documents, present evidence and speak to the judge. If the information is not presented correctly, your case can be thrown out, so it’s better if you have someone that knows what they’re doing to help you along the way.
  2.   An Objective Sounding Board: When it comes to a divorce, you might want to go to friends and family to be your sounding board, but it’s best if you hire a Chandler divorce attorney. They’ll be able to give you sound advice when it comes to your case. You’ll need a lot of support at this difficult time in your life and a lawyer will be an objective party who will give you the facts needed to be successful.

Although you might get a lot of advice elsewhere, the best advice as it relates to your case will always come from your lawyer.

  1.   Better Efficiency: If you were to represent yourself in a divorce or custody hearing, you’d spend a lot of time researching what needs to be done. But by hiring a Chandler divorce attorney, you’d be saving yourself a lot of time given their expertise on the subject. So they’ll spend less time doing what will take you days to do.

On top of researching family law and court proceedings, you’d have to stay on top of important dates, deadlines, paperwork and the like, which will only add to your already full plate. You might not have the energy or time to really devote to your case, but your family lawyer in Chandler, AZ, will!

  1.   Complete Closure: Hiring a Chandler Family law attorney will give you the closure needed to move past this difficult time. They’ll make sure that all the issues are addressed properly so that you don’t have any problems in the future (which might end up in more litigation). Thanks to a quailed Chandler family law attorney on your case, you won’t have to worry about any loose ends at the end of your case. Plus, they can also bring up possible future scenarios now and discuss how to resolve them now so that they aren’t even an issue later.

You’ll need to ultimately do what’s best for your case and interests in the end. But many times, that means hiring a Chandler family law attorney so that you feel confident throughout the divorce or custody process. 

If you’re considering filing divorce, Shaffer Family Law in Chandler can help you file and give you the support you will need throughout the process. Give us a call at (480) 470-3030 today!

Little-Known Benefits of Divorce

Our Chandler Divorce Lawyers are here to give you the advice you need to get the results you desire. Ultimately, divorce is terrible. From the cost of hiring a lawyer to losing an additional income, divorce can come at a high price. In addition, it is common for people to walk away from the proceedings with a lot fewer assets and savings for retirement. And on top of everything else, it also takes an emotional toll on a person. However, divorce doesn’t isn’t all bad, especially when it comes to financial benefits it can come with. While not a reason to run out and get a divorce, here’s a few financial benefits that could make a sad situation seem a little better.

  1. Easier and more control over budgeting: The end of a marriage often means the end of fights over finances. No more trying to figure out the priorities in the budget, especially if you’ve spent the past few years persuading or pleading your now ex-spouse to cut back on spending. 
  2. Early access to your retirement fund: A little known fact is that divorce is one of the few times you would be able to access your retirement account early and not be penalized for early withdrawal. Though, it’s important to be careful when taking money out of your retirement account. It can be a risky move, but it is a nice option for the newly divorced when they may not otherwise have one.
  3. Better returns on investments: Divorce could mean better investment returns, especially for women. Men tend to be more aggressive when it comes to investments and take more risks. Divorce is a good time for women to take charge of their own retirement planning, which could be positive financially in the long run.
  4. Financial aid for the kids: Divorce has been known to be difficult for children. One good thing for them involves college financial aid. When it comes to signing up with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, you are only required to submit financial information from the parent that has full custody, instead of financial information both parents. Of course, child support and alimony received from the non-custodial parent will need to be included for FAFSA, though any additional financial assistance is helpful.
  5. Older divorcees have Social Security perks: Divorced spouses may be able to file for Social Security spousal benefits when they reach retirement age. You’re eligible for these benefits if you and your ex were married for at least 10 years. The best thing about this is your ex-spouse doesn’t even know you’re doing it and it won’t impact their benefits.
  6. Reevaluate financial priorities. While people are sometimes angered by the lifestyle changes caused by divorce, there is actually a lot of opportunities for them to rethink priorities and start fresh. Even major adjustments, such as giving up property, can be beneficial in the long run. It could be better financially a smaller house or even an apartment.

Divorce doesn’t have to mean a dwindled down bank account. Even with less income, divorced people can build wealth if they use their resources wisely. Of course, not everyone’s financial situation will improve with divorce, but it’s surprising how it can improve. It’s important to remember that getting a divorce isn’t something you should rush into, but if you find yourself in a marriage that isn’t working, don’t give up hope. You may still come out ahead when it comes to the financial benefits of divorce.

At Shaffer Family Law, we understand the fine details of the legal system and will give you the guidance you need to get through the divorce process, answer your questions, and be an advocate for you. If you are ready to move forward, we invite you to give us a call at (480) 470-3030 today.

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