Divorce fraud occurs when one party in a divorce case intentionally deceives the other party for his or her personal gain.
What does Michigan divorce fraud law provide?
Previously, we examined the rights available to victims of divorce fraud. Generally speaking, if you are the victim of divorce fraud you have one year from the entry of the Judgment of Divorce to seek a remedy.
The Power of Discovery
Michigan law requires that property acquired during the course of the marriage be fairly divided.
While it is not possible to protect against every type of divorce fraud, the right attorney can make a difference in helping make a settlement fair. Your divorce attorney has the power of discovery to help you prevent divorce fraud. Discovery is the formal process used by lawyers to discover facts important to your case. The discovery questions are asked under oath and subject to the penalty of perjury which is a 15 year felony.
How to prevent divorce fraud?
1. Trust but verify
In an effort to reduce expenses some lawyers don’t check the facts. Instead they rely on the representations of the other party to ascertain the nature and extent of the marital estate. Waiving or limiting discovery can save money but at the risk of a party not being entirely truthful. For example, a party may represent that his/her business is not making money (which in fact may be true) but not disclose that the profits of the company have been deferred until after the divorce. This type of risk can be minimized by conducting discovery to confirm the representations.
2. Never waive discovery. It is almost always a bad idea to waive discovery. Remember, many relationships breakdown because of a lack of trust. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is alive and well in divorce law. It is almost impossible to prove divorce fraud if you never ask a question regarding the hidden asset. Michigan divorce law requires you to ask questions and for the other party to answer.
3. Full disclosure of assets and liabilities. Every Judgment of Divorce or Settlement Agreement should have a provision which provides that the parties have fully disclosed all of their assets and liabilities. While not a replacement for discovery, the representation that the parties have fully disclosed all of their assets and liabilities provides a baseline of protection if divorce fraud is later discovered.
We provide more information on Michigan divorce law than anyone.
Change is rarely easy, sometimes complicated and often emotional. Let a Michigan divorce attorney experienced in family law help you. We utilize a team approach to focus on solutions by applying Michigan law properly. We specialize in helping you focus on your goals, protect your property interests, manage your custody and support interest, and keep you happy in life’s most difficult circumstances.
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By: Daniel Findling