I learned that my former spouse kept a hidden bank account throughout our marriage after our divorce was finalized. Am I entitled to half of the money in the account?
In New Jersey, divorcing spouses are legally protected from fraudulent divorce settlements that result when one spouse endeavors to hide or otherwise fails to disclose important information regarding marital assets. From the date of a couple’s marriage, each spouse owes the other a fiduciary duty. This means each spouse is obligated to act in the best interests of the other party. In the context of a New Jersey marriage, a fiduciary duty exists until a couple’s assets are equitably distributed following dissolution. A divorcing individual who violates this duty may be required to pay his or her former spouse’s legal bills and forfeit the entire value of the hidden or otherwise undisclosed asset. The allegedly deceitful party may also be subject to additional scrutiny by the family court.
Under Rule 4:50-1, a New Jersey final judgment of divorce, including any agreed upon property settlement, may be set aside if it was based on misrepresentation or fraud. Evidence that a divorcing spouse made a material misrepresentation, committed perjury, or improperly procured a foreign judgment may be used in order to demonstrate that fraud occurred. Still, a former spouse who seeks to set aside a property settlement agreement must demonstrate that it was significantly inequitable. This may be accomplished by showing the spouse was unaware of the supposed fraud and unable to discover the purported deception despite using due diligence, and the fraud resulted in the acceptance of an unfair or unbalanced property settlement. Whether or not such a settlement will be revisited is within the sole discretion of a New Jersey court.
If you believe your former spouse hid assets or lied in order to convince you to accept a reduced New Jersey divorce settlement, it is vital that you obtain evidence to back up your claim. Information regarding bank accounts, pension or other retirement plans, income tax returns, and other financial assets may be useful in demonstrating that a former husband or wife intentionally hid assets. Similarly, such data may be found in other locations, such as a computer hard drive. Regardless, a Rule 4:50-1 motion must be brought within a reasonable period of time based on the circumstances. To learn more about protecting your right to receive an equitable share of your marital assets, you should contact an experienced New Jersey family lawyer as soon as possible.
For skillful guidance regarding your divorce, alimony, or other family law questions, do not hesitate to give the seasoned New Jersey family law attorneys at Goldstein Law Group a call at 732-967-6777 or contact our hardworking advocates through our website.
More Blog Posts:
New Jersey Senate Passes Bill That Would End Child Support at Age 19, September 3, 2015, New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Blog
Restricting a Child’s Access to a Parent’s New Partner Following a New Jersey Divorce, August 31, 2015, New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Blog