The property division process in California divorce requires that both sides place all their assets on the table.
Sometimes one side decides to keep valuable assets a secret. This is a major no-no in divorce, but it happens, because some people think they are smarter than their former partner, smarter than the courts.
What people hide
Hidden assets can be quite significant: real estate, businesses, secret investment accounts, properties and financial accounts abroad, deferred compensation such as stock options, retirement accounts and benefits, collectibles and artwork, intellectual property, online assets, even a stash of cash.
There are cases in which the individual maintained an entirely separate life, unknown to the spouse.
It used to be easier to hide assets than it is today. It is generally not difficult to track down hidden financial assets using online databases.
The high cost of hiding
The penalty for hidings assets can be stiff. Those who try must often pay court costs and investigation costs. Prenups can be invalidated. Judges often sock it to the offending party, slashing their part in the division and charging them with contempt of court.
Offenders can even be sued after the divorce is granted if proof exists of the deception.
The first line of defense against cheaters? It's an experienced family law attorney alert to the possibility of such misbehavior.