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Any time two people divorce, there is the potential for one or both parties to make mistakes that make the process more difficult and contentious. Not only can certain missteps hinder negotiations in mediation and cause added stress on both people, they can also lead to far more severe consequences, including criminal charges.

This can be the case when one person is accused of attempting to leave out, undervalue or otherwise conceal assets during the divorce.

Professor learns difficult lesson

One case that illustrates the harsh penalties of this act occurred in another state. A highly-ranked professor at a university was going through a divorce when his soon-to-be ex-wife accused him of forging financial documents. An investigation into her accusations eventually revealed that the professor committed numerous offenses.

Reports state that in an effort to undervalue one of his retirement accounts, he presented several forged documents misrepresenting the amount held in the account. He also purposefully withheld information regarding a second account.

A court convicted him of attempted theft by swindle, which could result in a sentence of five to 20 years in jail and up to $100,000 in fines.

Avoiding similar mistakes

It is never a good idea to misrepresent or attempt to conceal assets during a Pennsylvania divorce. Even if a person thinks such an act is justified or easy to pull off, the fact is that it is unlawful and there are plenty of ways to uncover hidden assets during a divorce

Instead of resorting to illegal methods during divorce, parties should instead discuss with an attorney the legal avenues for protecting specific property and seeking a fair settlement. And if you think your spouse is concealing assets, you can discuss with your lawyer your options for conducting a thorough investigation. In either case, legal guidance can be crucial in avoiding costly mistakes.