What Happens if My Spouse Hid Assets in our Divorce?
Updated November 27, 2023
Many people wonder whether there is any recourse when they discover that their spouse hid assets during their divorce. When a former spouse hides income, you can go to court to have alimony or child support increased Post Judgment. But when a spouse hid assets — such as ownership in a business, real estate, or bank or brokerage account — there’s an additional layer of complexity involved to “unring the bell” on how the court divided property at the end of the divorce.
Read on to learn more.
Fraudulent Concealment Claim
When one spouse fails to disclose assets at the time of the divorce, the other spouse has what we call a “fraudulent concealment” claim. Unlike when a former spouse hides income and you can go to court to have child support or alimony awards increased, it’s more complicated when a spouse hides assets. In Connecticut, the procedure to try to redistribute assets takes longer, and the court’s burden of proof is harder to meet.
Opening the Judgment to Address Hidden Assets During the Divorce
The first step when bringing a fraudulent concealment claim is to request the court “reopen” the divorce judgment via a “Motion to Open or Set Aside Judgment.” If it reopens a final judgment, the Court is able to revisit property division.
Typically, you can only reopen a judgment within 4 months of the date of the judgment, and it has to be for one of a limited number of reasons. The only exception to that general rule is when a judge finds a “clear and convincing” proof of fraud. The reason for this high standard is that Courts don’t like to reopen a judgment since once a judgment issued, so there must be a strong and good compelling reason to reopen the divorce. In other words, it’s not enough to suspect that your ex hid assets. You need some proof.
What About How Hidden Assets Impact Alimony and Child Support?
A Motion to Open can also address alimony and child support but is limited to fraud that is alleged to have occurred prior to the final judgment. When a former spouse hides income after the final judgment (or “Post Judgment”), you can go to court to modify alimony or child support.
Because it can be so difficult to change a divorce judgment when you find out after the divorce that your spouse hid assets, it is crucial that you have an experienced divorce lawyer on board in advance of your hearing. Plus, there are also specific standards the court will use to determine whether a fraud has occurred with which your lawyer will need to be familiar.
To start making a plan for your Post Judgment issue, reach out. Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals. We analyze those goals, plus the facts of your case, and present you with recommendations and options to move forward.