The divorce process can be messy if a spouse hides assets in anticipation of the court dividing the marital assets in the other spouse’s favor. Hiding assets in a Virginia divorce can make the division of debts and assets worse for the spouse who hides assets before a divorce, though.
What Right Do You and Your Spouse Each Have to Assets in Virginia?
In a Virginia marriage, each spouse maintains separate assets for property owned before the marriage. Property and assets purchased during the marriage make up the shared marital assets. There is also a third category of assets, called “hybrid assets.”
Hybrid assets are assets purchased during the marriage to which either spouse contributed a large portion of the purchasing funds. For example, Spouse A owned a home prior to the marriage and sold it, then contributed most of those funds to purchase the marital home for Spouses A and B.
The court would consider it “hybrid property” and would consider the contributing shares to the home’s purchase and upkeep. Spouse A would need to find documentation that they used their prior home sale funds to contribute 80% of the purchase price.
During the divorce process, each spouse should rely on their separate assets and income. If one spouse earns considerably more than the other, the judge can award the lower-earning spouse temporary spousal support that the higher-earning spouse must pay until the divorce is final.
What Is the Difference Between Equal Division and Equitable Distribution in Virginia?
Most states, including the Commonwealth of Virginia, are equitable distribution states. This means that instead of dividing marital assets 50-50 like in equal division states, the court considers each spouse’s contribution. Courts consider several factors, including:
- Marital fault (if filing an at-fault divorce)
- Income and earning capacity for both spouses
- Educational or career contributions in support of a spouse
- Child custody
- Economic misconduct (especially if marital funds were used for infidelity)
What Penalties Might a Spouse Who Hides Assets Face?
Hiding assets in a Virginia divorce could be detrimental to that spouse’s awards from the court during property division. Early in the divorce process, spouses must furnish accurate documentation of their assets during discovery. If a spouse is hiding assets, this information often becomes known before the divorce is final.
A Virginia divorce court could alter the awards of marital assets to give a larger share to the spouse who doesn’t hide assets, including:
- More marital assets to make up for the value of the hidden assets
- A higher spousal support award if granting alimony
- A lower portion of the couple’s shared marital debts
- Punitive or restorative damages
A spouse who doesn’t comply with court-ordered property division may be in contempt of court. Contact our family law firm at The DiPietro Law Group for non-compliance in Virginia.
Contact Us Today If You Suspect Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets
If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets in a Virginia divorce, turn to an experienced family law and divorce firm. Call us at The DiPietro Law Group at (888) 530-4374 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney.