Oklahoma has consistently reported one of the country’s highest statewide divorce rates, recently reaching a 20-year peak to one of the highest state divorce rates in the country. Couples choose to divorce for many reasons. If you and your spouse have recently decided to end your marriage in Tulsa or Oklahoma City, it’s vital to know how the process is likely to unfold and what divorce entails and what potential obstacles you might face as you work toward your divorce resolution.

Property division is typically one of the most contentious issues in Tulsa and Oklahoma City divorce cases. Oklahoma enforces an equitable distribution law, meaning the court generally strives for the fairest possible division of marital property in divorce cases. One of the most crucial factors necessary for ensuring an equitable division of marital property is financial disclosure. When a spouse is dishonest in their financial disclosure to shield assets from division, they can face severe criminal penalties.

When you divorce in Tulsa or Oklahoma City, you have the right to claim separate property ownership rights over any property you owned before marriage, the inheritance you received from blood relatives, and gifts given to you over the years, including those given to you by your spouse. However, there are strict rules pertaining to separate property, and it is essential to follow these rules to the letter to ensure an equitable result to your property division determination. Mischaracterizing or intentionally hiding assets is never a wise choice.

Examples of Hiding Assets in Oklahoma Divorce

The family court systems of Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and the other communities of Oklahoma handle thousands of divorce cases every year. While many couples prefer to seek divorce settlements through alternative dispute resolution, others litigate their divorces in court, allowing judges to rule on every facet of their dissolution proceedings. Regardless of how you and your spouse decide to handle your divorce, both of you will need to complete the financial disclosure process, and you must be honest and transparent with each component of this process.

A financial disclosure statement is submitted to the court under oath, meaning the party submitting the statement does so, declaring that it is complete and accurate to the best of their knowledge. Intentionally leaving out any financial details you must disclose during this process can lead to prosecution for perjury and fraud. Some of the most commonly reported examples of hiding assets in divorce include:

  • Bogus loans. A divorcing individual may “loan” a large sum of money to a family member to prevent them from needing to disclose it as property in divorce proceedings with the intent of collecting the loan after finalizing their divorce.
  • Deferment of bonuses, commissions, and promotions. A divorcing individual may ask their employer to withhold a bonus check, commission check, or promotion until after they complete their divorce to minimize the amount they need to split in divorce proceedings.
  • Siphoning cash. When married spouses share a bank account, one spouse may attempt to withdraw cash discreetly and stash it aside, so there is less to divide in divorce proceedings.
  • Intentional wasting of marital assets. Once a couple has decided to divorce, neither of them may intentionally squander shared assets. For example, if a couple divorces due to adultery and the unfaithful spouse decides to max out a shared credit card to buy gifts for their new romantic partner, the other spouse should not be held accountable for the debt.

If you believe your spouse has engaged in any such activity, it is vital to notify your attorney about your suspicions as soon as possible. The best way to handle hidden assets is for your attorney to work with a financial expert to review you and your spouses’ financial records to detect any discrepancies.

Attorneys in Tulsa and Oklahoma City typically consult financial experts to help clients prove hidden assets in divorce proceedings. A forensic accountant can typically uncover evidence of hidden assets with relative ease, and the spouse responsible for this activity can face severe penalties. First, the judge overseeing the case will likely hold them in contempt of court, which indicates that they knowingly interfered with court proceedings. They will also likely face a perjury charge for providing a knowingly false statement under oath. Finally, the judge will scrutinize them more severely during the divorce case, potentially leading to more significant losses than the at-fault spouse could have prevented had they succeeded with their efforts.

Civil and Criminal Penalties for Hiding Assets

If you are divorcing in Tulsa or Oklahoma City and your attorney helps you prove that your spouse lied during financial disclosure, they can face several possible penalties. Primarily, the judge will likely award you extra funds from the marital property determination to reflect the amount your spouse attempted to hide. In addition, if you incurred additional legal fees for your efforts to uncover their activities, your spouse would be accountable for these expenses as well.

It’s also possible for your spouse to face criminal prosecution for perjury, leading to fines and even jail time. If their activities involved any measure of fraud, they would face additional criminal charges for this as well. Finally, if a spouse succeeds in hiding assets from divorce proceedings, and their ex-spouse discovers this later, they still have the right to pursue a resolution by filing contempt of court proceedings against them. Ultimately, it is never worth the risk to hide assets in a divorce, even if you believe that you deserve to retain the property in question.

Oklahoma City and Tulsa report some of the highest divorce rates in the country, and these rates have increased over the last several years. There are many reasons behind this trend, and everyone facing divorce proceedings in Oklahoma must understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to their divorce proceedings. If you are unsure how to approach your divorce case, or if you have decided to divorce and are concerned about your spouse’s financial habits, it is essential to consult an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible.