Many clients will raise a concern in their initial consultation that the other spouse is trying to strategically plan the time or circumstances of a divorce to coincide with their viewpoint that the other spouse is “weak.” This could include a long-term sickness, a job loss or other extenuating life circumstance. Naturally, the timing makes the disadvantaged spouse feel that the divorce has been strategically planned to capitalize on your hard time.
The good news is that generally the judges involved in family court actions do not look favorably on parties/litigants who seem to be exploiting an unfair or difficult situation of the other party. In many situations, an unfair advantage or circumstance calls for strong legal advocacy and the court to intervene in giving the disadvantaged party an equitable/ equalizing opportunity.
What are some examples of how the court equalizes things?
If a spouse is unemployed and is searching for a job, the court may provide some financial relief in the form of maintenance, child support, payment of temporary attorney fees, payment of house rent/mortgage or other living expenses until the unemployed spouse can locate gainful employment.
In other circumstances, if a spouse underrepresents the value of an asset, real estate or other property, depending on the significance of the under-valued amount, the court may determine that the other spouse should be awarded the asset at the misstated/under-reported value (thus the spouse who tried to profit from undervaluing the asset ends up losing value). In other circumstances, if a spouse over-values an item because he or she anticipates the other party wants it and is hopeful that the other party’s assets will be over-valued, the court may award the over-valuing spouse the asset.
If a spouse transfers funds to another third party such as a family member or new significant other, often these funds can be tracked and the “hiding spouse” will be accountable not only for the money that was moved, but also for the costs involved in finding and locating those funds.
The court’s goal in any divorce outcome is fundamental fairness. Simply put, your interests are best protected by being honest, fair and accurately and honestly dividing assets and debts. If you suspect that your spouse is not going to be fair to you in going through the divorce process, the best thing you can do is get a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney on your team who is able to articulate strategies to deal with a spouse you believe will try to be unfair. Call Pingel Family Law today to speak with our attorneys and understand how we can make sure you receive a fair outcome in your divorce process (816) 208-8130.