What Is the Statute of Limitations for Hiding Marital Assets in a Divorce?

By Mary Jane Freeman

Courts rarely re-open property settlement orders following a divorce. However, many judges will do so if it is later discovered that a spouse intentionally hid assets. Generally, the case must often be brought soon after the divorce judgment.

Courts rarely re-open property settlement orders following a divorce. However, many judges will do so if it is later discovered that a spouse intentionally hid assets. Generally, the case must often be brought soon after the divorce judgment.

Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution

Depending on the state divorcing spouses live in, property acquired during the marriage - known as marital property - will either be split equally or equitably. A handful of states, such as California and Arizona, are community property states, which means marital property is split 50-50 between spouses. However, in the remaining states, including New York and Florida, marital property is equitably distributed. This means it is divided in a manner that is fair and just, but not necessarily equal, so divorcing spouses can walk away with uneven splits, such as 60-40 or 70-30.

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Hiding Assets and Statute of Limitations

Once spouses divide marital property in divorce, the terms of the property settlement are final. As a result, courts rarely re-open this portion of a divorce case, usually only doing so when there has been serious misconduct on the part of a spouse, such as fraud. If a spouse intentionally hid assets during a divorce, this may be sufficient grounds for a court to re-open the divorce case and set aside the original property settlement and substitute a new one. How long a spouse has to make this request depends on state law. For example, in Massachusetts, a claim must be brought within one year after the judgment; in Colorado, within five years after judgment; and in Wisconsin, within one year from discovery of fraud.

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What Is Meant by Fraud As a Grounds for Divorce?

References

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Fraud in Family Law Cases

To show someone committed fraud in a family law case, you have to prove that the person made a false statement of fact that related to something important in the case. You also have to show that the person knew the statement was untrue and intended to deceive you, causing you harm. Fraud can play a pivotal role in family law cases. If you can prove fraud, you may be able to overturn a court order, such as a divorce decree, undo a contract, such as a prenuptial or settlement agreement, annul your marriage, or affect a paternity determination.

Non-Modifiable Divorce Laws in Florida

When couples divorce in Florida, they must resolve all marital issues before they can move on and start life anew. This includes deciding important matters like property division, alimony, child support and custody. While it is true that certain orders in the divorce decree are modifiable after divorce, such as child support and custody, others are not. Divorcing spouses must ensure that any issues important to them are thoroughly discussed during the divorce process and the final terms are satisfactory based on their long-term goals.

Annulled Vs. Divorced

Spouses involved in unhappy or intolerable marriages often wish they could turn back time and undo their mistakes. In some cases, they can. All 50 states allow spouses to annul a marriage under some circumstances. A decree of annulment means the marriage never occurred. Comparatively, a divorce decree ends a marriage that legally existed.

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