Kansas City, MO-Marriage is about love, loyalty and trust, or at least it should be, but sometimes those things don’t last and a couple may find themselves in the middle of a divorce which can become very contentious especially when it comes to the issue of money. Sometimes in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, one partner will do anything to protect their financial assets by hiding their money from an estranged spouse. Hiding assets is illegal and has consequences.

According to a National Endowment for Financial Education study, reported by Forbes, 31 percent of respondents said they hid assets, purchases and debts from their spouses amid their divorce. An additional 34 percent said they lied to their spouse about their finances. The study also found women are more likely than men to accuse their spouse of lying about money.

When a couple files for a divorce, whether contested or uncontested, they are required to sign a Financial Affidavit. This is statement where they detail their financial assets which include property, stock options, income and expenses. Signing this affidavit means the divorcing parties, under the penalty of perjury, is telling the truth about the marital assets.

Perjury is a serious offense and though each state has different consequences for such a charge, it can lead to a conviction and ensuing penalties that sometimes entails jail time.

But in most cases hiding assets leads to a financial penalty, the very thing the offender was trying to avoid in the first place. A judge can order a spouse to pay attorney fees, other divorce-related costs or have their divorce demands dismissed.

In states that have community property laws– where the spousal assets are divided 50/50 between the spouses—a judge can instead award all the assets to the spouse who didn’t file a false financial affidavit.

There are a number of ways a spouse can hide assets and these trails can be hard to follow. When someone suspects their spouse of hiding assets a divorce attorney can investigate and find those assets.

Establishing a LLC or other type of company to purchase assets like property is a one way to hide assets. Assets can also be hidden through family members, business associates and friends by having them pose as “straw” purchasers. Or, spouses can keep their purchases secret from their spouse.

Spouses, who are business owners, can also hide assets by paying a non-existent employees or failing to record business receipts. Business expenses can also be overestimated in an effort to hide money.

It’s crucial if one spouse suspects the other of hiding assets they have a team of accomplished divorce attorneys working on their case. Most attorneys can discover these hidden assets, but some people are rather clever and come up with unique ways to hide their assets.

When a spouse has a great deal of business savvy it may take a financial expert to track these purchases down. There’s no shame in trying to protect your money in divorce, but lying about it has consequences. With a top notch team of financial investigators and divorce attorneys an estranged spouse can get the settlement they deserve.