California is a community property state. This means that spouse’s equally share in assets and debts acquired during marriage, unless a reimbursement statute applies (and frequently, reimbursements play a large part in equitable distribution).
Or… unless a spouse can get away with hiding assets or income.
California has a series of statutes imposing on each spouse an affirmative duty to fully disclose to the other spouse all assets in which either party may have any interest, that interest is separate or community in character. The courts have good methodology for protecting a spouse’s separate property assets and equity – so when a spouse willfully chooses not to disclose assets the courts have established a variety of punitive measures which can be levied against the offending spouse. Those measures can be anything from awarding 100% of the asset to the wronged spouse, or 50% of the asset along with monetary sanctions, including hefty attorney fee awards.
Assets might simply be placed into the name of another family member; might be claimed as having been “lost;” might be slid into an out-of-state corporation or LLC; might even be transferred into an offshore account. Income can be diverted into alternate merchant banking accounts, taken as cash, remain unreported altogether over a period of time, etc.
For every method opposing parties have invented to hide an asset, our firm has found another method to not only discover it, but to prove its existence and concealment to the court. Hartley Lamas Et Al invests heavily in ensuring we, and our associate attorneys, are highly educated in this area, and we add that education to our large body of experience to make our clients whole.