You Deserve Justice

Could hidden assets lead to a property division appeal?

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2023 | Divorce & Family Law |

The final court order for property division in an Arkansas divorce is usually the final court determination on such matters. After a judge hears about a family’s circumstances at length, they can make informed decisions about how they’ll divide marital assets between the spouses who were not able to reach a mutually-agreeable solution without judicial intervention.

However, in a small number of divorces in Arkansas each year, a final ruling may actually not follow the state’s equitable distribution rules. Both spouses have an obligation to disclose their personal property to the courts and each other during the discovery process. Violations of the rules of discovery are among the very rare reasons that a judge might alter the outcome of divorce proceedings.

Hiding assets is a violation of court rules

If a judge wants to impose a fair and reasonable property division order on a divorcing couple, they first need to have an understanding of the marital circumstances and also the extent of the marital property. The spouses have a legal obligation during the discovery process to provide a thorough and accurate inventory of their personal resources.

Both marital and separate property will typically require full disclosure, as judges ultimately decide what is fair based on a combination of what the spouses own separately and what they acquired during the marriage. When one spouse makes the intentional choice to hide assets from the other and the courts, a judge won’t be able to make a reasonable and fair determination about property division. In the best-case scenario, an individual or their attorney might discover the warning signs of hidden assets during the process of preparing for court. However, there have historically been many cases in which an attempt to hide marital property only comes to light after a judge enters their final ruling for a divorce.

Situations in which someone can clearly demonstrate that a judge made the wrong choice because they did not have accurate information – or that spouses based a mutually-agreeable solution on lies – might provide grounds for an appeal. The courts tend to view efforts to lie to judges and to hide property during the divorce negatively and may significantly alter the final property division decree to reflect the misconduct of one’s spouse.