When you are facing a divorce, there are many possible outcomes. If you and your estranged spouse can keep level heads and hold your emotions in check, then you might be able to resolve your settlement without the help of a court. However, in many cases, a couple that is splitting up can’t agree on much. When that is the case, they usually will have to seek the help of the courts to resole their case.

A California man has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term after he allegedly hid many of his assets during his divorce process. Steven K. Zinnel split up with his ex-wife in 1999 and the couple’s divorce quickly turned contentious. According to reports, Mr. Zinnel informed his wife that he did not plan on paying any child support for the couple’s two teenage children. He also told his wife that he was going to file for bankruptcy and that she wouldn’t get anything.

However, it turns out the Mr. Zinnel had actually hid millions of dollars in assets by using other people’s names. According to court papers, Mr. Zinnel didn’t stop there. He allegedly laundered more money through shell corporations so he could hide additional money in order to keep his child support payment down. Mr. Zinnel had apparently gotten away with his alleged crimes, until he asked the FBI to investigate his wife. Upon looking into his wife, the FBI actually discovered what Mr. Zinnel had done during his bankruptcy proceedings.

Mr. Zinnel, who is 50-years-old, was recently sentenced to more than 17 years in prison and ordered to pay a $500,000 fine. He was also ordered to forfeit corporate and real estate assets that are worth more than $2.8 million to the United States government. The man is still scheduled for a restitution hearing in federal court for child support.

If you are going through a divorce, you can either try to work things out for yourself, or you can contact an experienced divorce attorney who knows how to wade through these kinds of cases. Having the right help can make all the difference in how your case turns out.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, “Gold River man who hid assets in divorce, bankruptcy gets 17-year sentence,” Denny Walsh, March 5, 2104.