What Is the Penalty for Hiding Assets in Divorce?

Penalty for Hiding Assets in Divorce  Divorce Lawyer  Fresno CAChances are that if you’ve thought about getting a divorce, you’ve probably also thought about how it will affect you financially. If money is already tight, the expenses associated with divorce can be more than a little worrisome. You may find it tempting to hide away money from your spouse in order to have a little nest egg once the divorce is finalized. But it’s important to remember that this is not only unethical, but also illegal. So what is the penalty for hiding assets in divorce?

Understanding the Legal Consequences of Hiding Assets

Spouses hiding assets from one another is surprisingly common. In fact, the National Endowment for Financial Education reports that nearly one-third of all couples with combined assets engage in deceptive behavior with money. And men are much more likely to hide money than women are. But while hiding money from a spouse during a marriage is dishonest, doing it during a divorce will cost you greatly.

During the divorce process, you will be ordered to sign a financial affidavit. In this document, both of your joint assets are outlined so that the court can divide them fairly. Signing that affidavit means that you’re agreeing to all the information in it to the best of your knowledge. Thus, hiding assets is a direct violation of civil law, which means you are committing perjury.

What Happens When Either Party Lies Under Oath?

Lying while under oath is considered an act of contempt to the court. Consequences of doing so typically vary from state to state, and sometimes even district to district. California judges can freely decide on the final penalty.

Let’s take a look at this famous example:

Right before filing for divorce, a woman in California won the state lottery of $1.3 million. Wanting to keep all that money to herself, she failed to disclose her winnings in the financial affidavit. When the presiding judge figured out what the woman had done, he ordered that all her winnings go to the husband.

In that example above, following California’s community property state policy, which means couples must divide their assets evenly, the woman could have walked away with about $750,000. Instead, she walked away with nothing.

What If I Think My Spouse Is Hiding Money From Me?

Here are a few signs to look out for if you suspect your spouse is hiding money from you:

  • More frequent withdrawals from the ATM
  • Big write-offs from business accounts
  • Irregularities on taxes
  • More frequent travels for business

Unfortunately, you cannot simply relay your suspicions to the court. You must have evidence of your spouse’s deception. Consider hiring a private investigator to help you obtain proof. In addition, you will need an effective legal advocate on your side.

To learn more about the penalty for hiding assets in divorce and how you can protect yourself, contact an experienced Fresno divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

What to Include in a Parenting Plan

What to Include in a Parenting Plan Fresno CA Divorce LawyerCreating a parenting plan is often a fundamental part of the divorce process. The plan typically works out issues such as where the children will reside and just how much parenting time each parent should receive. By crafting a comprehensive parenting plan early on, you can help prevent future fights over unanswered issues. Below, we discuss what to include in a parenting plan and how to make sure you protect both your children and yourself.

What Should Your Parenting Plan Include?

When determining what to include in a parenting plan, you and your partner should be as thorough as possible. The more thorough you are, the less you’ll have to fight about later. Beyond deciding who should have primary physical custody and visitation, your plan can also address other decisions that potentially affect the welfare and health of your children.

For instance, you can use the plan to address how much each parent should contribute financially to your children, including child support. Also, your plan can discuss which holidays your children will spend with each parent, as well as how you’ll transport and exchange your children for visitation.

The plan can determine which school your children will attend, at which hospital your children will be treated for injuries and surgeries, and which health insurance policy will cover them. Your plan can also make an agreement on your children’s school functions, visits overnight with friends, and contact with other relatives. If you or your spouse are thinking of relocating at some point, make sure your plan covers the terms and conditions for relocation with or without children.

In short, your parenting plan should be tailored to fit the unique circumstances of your family. Almost any important issue that will arise in your children’s lives may be addressed and approved by the court. In fact, your plan can even cover how future disputes over the plan will be addressed, such as through mediation.

What Should Your Parenting Plan Avoid?

Because you cannot possibly plan for every single event in your children’s lives, try to make your plan as flexible and open to change as possible. Plans that are too rigid or specific may not hold up over time. Small disputes over rigid parenting plans are costly and time consuming in court. Therefore, it is in your and your children’s best interests to draft a nuanced parenting plan that allows both parents to communicate with each other. Doing so will make it easier to settle minor disputes in the future.

Making a plan that is too vague or general is not very helpful either. When the plan uses words such as “often” or “frequent”, it’s left open to each parent’s different interpretations. So the key is to strike a balance — flexible enough to change when necessary, and clear enough to avoid confusion.

We Can Help With Your Parenting Plan

At Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we can help you determine what to include in a parenting plan. Learn more about drafting an effective plan by talking to an experienced Fresno divorce attorney today.

How Does Supervised Visitation Work in California?

How Does Supervised Visitation Work Fresno CASupervised visitation simply means that a non-custodial parent can only visit with their child in the presence of another adult. Primarily, the arrangement is used to keep the child safe while supporting the child/parent relationship.

When deemed necessary, the court will work supervised visitation into the parenting plan. In addition, both parents may also be required to formulate a visitation schedule to make the supervised visits actually happen.

The court takes any contact between parent to child very seriously. But how does supervised visitation work? And in what circumstances will the court order it? To learn more, talk to a Fresno child visitation lawyer at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

When Is Supervised Visitation Necessary?

Under the following conditions, the court may order supervised visitation if a parent:

  • Has a history of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse against a child
  • Has a history of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse against the other parent
  • Suffers from a substance abuse issue
  • Suffers from an uncontrollable mental illness that could potentially harm the child
  • Has ever neglected their child
  • Has been mostly absent from their child’s life but now wants to begin a relationship
  • Continuously puts the family into potentially dangerous situations

Typically, if a non-custodial parent adheres to specific requirements, supervised visitation can potentially lead to unsupervised visitation. This means that orders of supervised visitation are often only temporary arrangements. For instance, if a non-custodial parent suffering from substance abuse issues continuously passes drug tests for at least six months and undergoes counseling services, they may eventually be able to obtain unsupervised visitation.

How Does Supervised Visitation Work?

Once the court determines that supervised visitation is necessary, it will specify exactly how the visits will play out.

For example, the court might order that supervised visits must happen in designated facilities. In addition, a monitor may be present at all times in the same room during the entire length of the visit.

Another possible scenario may be that the court orders a social worker, or similar person, to attend the visitation at the non-custodial parent’s home. The designated monitor will pick up the child from the custodial parent, attend the entirety of the visitation, and then drop the child back off at the custodial parent’s home.

Alternatively, in certain situations, the court may allow a relative, friend or acquaintance to attend the visitations as designated monitor. However, that person must be willing, and both parents must agree on the chosen person. If you feel this is your best option, it’s important to consider a person who you both agree is trustworthy and reliable.

Get Help With Supervised Visitation in California

Supervised visitation can play out in a number of different ways. To learn more about what to expect and how it works, speak to an experienced child custody attorney in Fresno. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

How to Fight False Allegations in Family Court

How to Fight False Allegations in Family Court  Fresno CAUnfortunately, false allegations of child abuse have become common in family cases — after all, it’s not very hard to make an allegation. All it takes is a declaration under oath with a depiction of the abuse. But at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, our experienced family law attorneys know how to fight false allegations in family court.

All too often, child abuse allegations amount to nothing more than she said, he said. This is especially true if the child is younger and unable to comment on the abuse.

California law demands that all children must receive frequent interaction with both parents. However, one exception to the rule is if a preponderance of evidence proves the allegation of child abuse from one parent to the other to be true. This is commonly known as a “51% standard” or “tipping the scales.”

Yet, what if the burden of proof is not satisfied? What are the rights of the parent who is falsely accused? What happens to the parent who made the false allegations? Below we’ll examine these questions and more.

False Allegations Can Lead to Limited Custody or Visitation

Under California law, the court may limit a parent’s visitation or custody if that parent is found to have intentionally made false allegations. The court looks down on parents who purposefully hinder the other parent’s parenting time. If enough evidence is found, then the accusing parent can receive limited custody or supervised visitation.

Burden of Proof Must Be Met for False Allegations

Proving a child abuse allegation is false requires substantial burden of proof.

Without such proof, the court cannot limit the accusing parent’s visitation or custody if the accusation was made upon a reasonable set of beliefs. This is even more true if the accusation can be corroborated by other witnesses. What this means is that even if the court doesn’t find a particular accusation to be true, that doesn’t mean the accusation was made to intentionally strip the other parent of contact with the child.

Large Monetary Sanctions for Falsely Claiming Child Abuse

In addition to the court’s ability to limit the accusing parent’s custody or visitation for false allegations of child abuse, the court may also impose large monetary sanctions upon that parent. However, the total cost of the sanction can’t surpass the cost incurred by the parent that is falsely accused, and typically includes the attorney’s fees for defending against the allegation.

How do you begin the process of seeking these sanctions? You must file a request for order and lay out the facts that demonstrate the extent of the false accusations.

Learn More About How to Fight False Allegations in Family Court

Remember that you’re not guilty until proven innocent. Although family courts typically err on the side of caution when allegations are made, a Fresno family law attorney can help you defend yourself. To learn more about how to fight false allegations in family court, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.