The divorce process entails much more than simply ending a marriage contract. It is also a legal process of dividing a married couple’s shared assets and property, legally defining each spouse’s separate ownership rights. It’s natural to have concerns about the property division process for your Wichita, KS, divorce, but it’s vital to remember that the state’s equitable distribution law strives to ensure the fairest possible outcome in every divorce case. However, a fair outcome to your property division determination is contingent upon both you and your spouse providing complete and accurate financial information.
The financial disclosure process is an essential element of any divorce case. Both divorcing spouses must provide complete financial records for their separate and marital property. In addition, suppose you intend to assert separate ownership rights over any property. In that case, you must be able to provide proof that the separate property was yours before your marriage or that it otherwise satisfies the definition of separate property under Kansas state law. If you attempt to hide assets to shield them from property division, you could face severe legal penalties, up to and including criminal prosecution for fraud and lying under oath.
How to Complete Financial Disclosure Correctly
If you are preparing for your divorce, you should take time to gather the records you will need to produce to complete the financial disclosure process. An experienced Wichita divorce lawyer can be a helpful asset with this process. They will know exactly which documents and records you will need to provide and how to secure them. In addition, your attorney can help you compile your financial disclosure statement that includes an accurate list of all of your assets and property.
You should expect to complete two aspects of your financial disclosure: one for your separate property that you intend to keep after your divorce and one for the marital property that you expect to divide with your spouse under Kansas’ equitable distribution laws. Of course, your spouse must also provide the same, and ideally, both of your marital asset disclosures will align identically, or at least very closely. However, if there are any discrepancies, the divorce process requires settling these issues definitively. Additionally, if either spouse objects to the other’s separate property claims, they must also settle these disputes.
Establishing Separate Property Rights in Wichita, KS, Divorce Proceedings
The term “separate property” generally refers to the property you owned before your marriage. So, for example, if you owned a home before you got married and your spouse moved in with you after marriage, it’s reasonable to assume that you would keep the house as your separate property if you divorced. Separate property also often includes inheritance received from relatives, gifts, and anything provided by the other spouse in a “donatory” capacity.
Sometimes a spouse will object to their spouse’s separate property claims because they contributed to the property in question in some way. Following the previous example of a home owned before marriage, if your spouse were to pay for renovations and upgrades to the house that increase the property value substantially, they would have reasonable grounds to argue that the house has transmuted to marital property due to their contributions.
It’s also possible to hold a spouse accountable if they cause the value of your separate property to diminish. If you believe your spouse has caused any loss of value of your separate property, your Wichita, KS, divorce attorney can help you determine the best option for addressing the situation.
Responsibility for Debts in Divorce
Similar to the property division process, divorce also requires a debt division determination. The Kansas family court system considers debts similar to property; this means both spouses are responsible for shared debts acquired during their marriage and bear separate responsibility for debts they controlled before their marriage. However, due to the complex nature of finances that can manifest during a marriage, many couples sign prenuptial contracts before marrying to insulate one another from each other’s debt. In addition, they may choose to maintain separate finances during their marriage, which can suit spouses who control complex assets and investments.
Kansas’ equitable distribution laws require divorcing spouses to maintain responsibility for their respective shared debts and equitable shares of their marital debts. If you are unsure what your debt responsibility could be after your divorce, your Wichita divorce attorney is your best resource for clarifying such issues.
What Happens If My Spouse Tries to Hide Assets in Divorce?
It’s a big mistake for anyone to attempt to hide their assets to shield them from property division proceedings in a Wichita divorce. Unfortunately, many divorcing spouses attempt to do so, only to incur severe legal penalties in the future. An individual can engage in several duplicitous tactics to hide assets from their divorce proceedings, such as:
- Asking an employer to hold a bonus or commission check until after their divorce is finalized.
- Providing large loans to family members to offload cash with the intent of collecting these debts after the divorce.
- Hiding assets in private bank accounts without their spouse’s knowledge or consent.
- Signing over property to a relative with the intention of having them sign it back over to them following the divorce.
- Slowly draining a shared account. For example, a spouse may periodically siphon cash from a shared bank account in the months leading to their divorce.
If you suspect that your spouse has engaged in any behaviors along these lines, it is essential to raise your concerns with your Wichita divorce attorney. Your legal team can help you find the underlying cause of the situation in several ways. For example, they may consult expert witnesses who can help you uncover your spouse’s financial misconduct. In addition, forensic accountants are adept at scouring financial records to uncover unethical uses of marital funds and assets.
When an investigation reveals that a spouse in a divorce case has engaged in any activity meant to hide assets and prevent their lawful division in Wichita, KS, divorce proceedings, they can face severe criminal penalties. A financial disclosure statement is provided under oath, so any intentional hiding of assets constitutes perjury. One of the best ways to ensure a fair, transparent, and equitable distribution of property in your divorce case is by securing legal counsel you can trust. Contact an experienced Wichita divorce attorney to represent you if you have concerns about financial disclosure in your upcoming divorce.