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Penalties for Hiding Assets in an Arizona Divorce

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In the state of Arizona, divorcing couples are required to disclose all assets and liabilities as part of the divorce process. Failure to fully disclose or intentionally hiding assets can result in serious consequences, including jail time. Arizona is a community property state, meaning that all assets acquired during the marriage are considered joint property and must be divided equally between the spouses.

 If a spouse is found guilty of hiding assets in an Arizona divorce, they may face not only financial penalties but also the possibility of criminal charges and imprisonment.

If you’ve been caught lying about assets in a divorce, consulting with a specialized attorney like those at Colburn Hintze Maletta is crucial. Their expertise in family law and criminal defense can help navigate the legal complexities and protect your interests.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation to discuss your case and determine the best course of action.


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Hiding Assets in a Divorce

What is Considered an Asset in a Divorce

In Arizona, an asset in a divorce encompasses anything with value that was acquired during the marriage.

This can include:

  • Real estate properties.
  • Bank accounts and cash.
  • Investments and retirement accounts.
  • Business interests.
  • Personal property, such as vehicles, jewelry, and furniture.

Arizona follows the community property principle, meaning most assets acquired during the marriage are considered joint property and should be divided equally.Separate property, owned before the marriage or received as a gift or inheritance, is usually exempt but must still be disclosed.

What Does Full Financial Disclosure Mean

Full financial disclosure in a divorce context means that both spouses must fully and truthfully disclose all their assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. This includes:

  • Providing complete and accurate documentation of all financial accounts.
  • Disclosing any off-book income or hidden assets.
  • Being honest about debts and liabilities.

Arizona law mandates this transparency to ensure a fair division of assets and responsibilities. Failure to comply can lead to legal repercussions.

man lying under oath in a divorce case

What is Perjury in a Divorce Case

Perjury is constituted by knowingly making a false statement under oath about material facts.

This false statement must be made with the intent to deceive and must be about something significant or relevant to the case at hand.

For perjury to be established, it is not sufficient for a statement to be misleading; it must be demonstrably false and made by an individual who understands that they are under oath and that their statement is untrue.


When Are You Under Oath

You are under oath during legal proceedings when you swear to tell the truth before giving testimony, whether in court, during a deposition, or in certain written documents like affidavits. Being under oath signifies that your statements are made with the promise of truthfulness, under penalty of perjury.


Examples of perjury in a divorce case

  1. Underreporting Income: If a spouse intentionally reports a lower income than what they actually earn to avoid higher alimony or child support payments, this constitutes perjury. For instance, if an individual earns $100,000 annually but reports only $50,000 while under oath during the divorce proceedings.
  2. Concealing Assets: Hiding assets or failing to disclose them is another form of perjury. For example, if a spouse owns a rental property or has significant savings in a separate account and deliberately omits this information or denies its existence under oath, this action constitutes perjury.
  3. Falsifying Debts: Claiming non-existent debts or exaggerating the amount of existing debts to impact the division of assets is perjury. For example, if a spouse claims a $20,000 credit card debt under oath when the actual debt is $5,000 or nonexistent, this is considered perjury.
  4. Misrepresenting the Value of Assets: If a spouse knowingly undervalues a significant asset, such as a business or real estate, to affect the financial outcome of the divorce, this misrepresentation under oath is perjury. For instance, valuing a business at $50,000 under oath when it is worth $200,000 constitutes perjury.

In all these examples, the common element is the intentional and knowing presentation of false information under oath regarding significant matters that affect the divorce’s financial aspects.

Penalties for Perjury

Perjury, classified as a class 4 felony in Arizona, carries significant legal consequences to maintain judicial integrity. Convicted individuals may face:


  1. Fines: Up to $150,000, reflecting the serious nature of undermining court proceedings.
  2. Imprisonment: For those without prior convictions, sentences range from 1 to 3.75 years. This can extend up to 15 years for individuals with a history of felonies.
  3. Probation: Courts may also impose probation, demanding regular check-ins and community service, emphasizing rehabilitation alongside punishment.
  4. Additional Penalties: Including restitution and collateral consequences like loss of professional licenses and employment opportunities.

Consequences of Lying in a Divorce Case

Lying in a divorce case, particularly about financial matters, is taken very seriously in Arizona. The consequences extend beyond legal penalties and can profoundly impact the divorce outcome and the individual’s post-divorce life. Misrepresenting assets, income, debts, or other significant details can lead to a range of repercussions:


  1. Revised Asset Division: If lies are discovered, the court may revise previously made decisions regarding asset distribution, often to the detriment of the dishonest party. This can result in losing a larger portion of the marital assets than would have been the case with honest disclosure.
  2. Monetary Sanctions: Beyond fines associated with perjury, additional monetary sanctions can be imposed for lying in a divorce case. These are intended to penalize the dishonest behavior and compensate the other party for the additional legal fees and complications caused.
  3. Loss of Credibility: Once a party is caught lying, their credibility with the court is significantly damaged. This loss of trust can negatively affect other aspects of the divorce proceedings, including custody and visitation rights, as judges may view the dishonest party as less reliable and trustworthy.
  4. Legal Penalties: Similar to perjury, lying under oath can lead to criminal charges, including fines and imprisonment, reflecting the legal system’s stance against deceit in judicial proceedings.
  5. Impact on Custody and Support Decisions: Dishonesty can influence the court’s decisions regarding child custody and support. Courts favor stable and honest environments for children; therefore, a parent’s dishonesty could lead to less favorable custody arrangements and support terms.

forensic accountant examining files

How are Hidden Assets Found 

 In Arizona, a variety of methods are utilized to reveal concealed or undervalued assets, including:

Forensic Accounting

In the world of divorce, forensic accountants are like detectives. They examine financial records, tax returns, and other documents, searching for any discrepancies, unreported income, or irregular transactions that may hint at hidden assets. Their expertise allows them to uncover financial details that may not be immediately apparent.

Discovery Process

The discovery process is a fundamental legal procedure in divorce cases, involving the exchange of financial information between spouses. Through interrogatories (written questions), depositions (sworn oral testimony), and requests for production of documents, hidden assets can be brought to light. This process ensures that both parties have access to the same financial information, facilitating a fair division.


Subpoenas are powerful legal tools that compel third parties to produce evidence which can uncover hidden assets. Financial institutions, employers, and investment brokers may be required to hand over financial statements and records, providing a direct insight into a spouse’s financial status.

Examination of Public Records

Sometimes, hidden assets can be discovered through public records. By investigating property registrations, vehicle registrations, and corporate records, assets that a spouse may have failed to disclose can be identified. This method taps into readily available resources to reveal undisclosed assets.

Lifestyle Analysis

A lifestyle analysis involves comparing a spouse’s reported income against their actual lifestyle and expenditures. This can reveal whether there are undisclosed sources of income or assets, as significant discrepancies between reported income and lifestyle can indicate hidden wealth.

Expert Testimony

Financial experts, appraisers, and investigators can offer valuable insights and opinions regarding the existence and value of suspected hidden assets. Their professional assessments can be crucial in supporting the case, helping to uncover and quantify hidden assets.

Schedule a Consultation With an Arizona Family and Criminal Law Attorney

If you’re going through a divorce in Arizona, especially with issues like hiding assets that could lead to both family and criminal legal challenges, consider consulting with an attorney skilled in both family law and criminal defense. They can offer comprehensive legal guidance, ensuring your rights are safeguarded throughout the process. For expert advice and representation, schedule your consultation today with Colburn Hintze Maletta.

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