Divorce - Non-Disclosure of Assets Could Lead to a Lawsuit

April 25, 2013

Recently, Patricia Cohen's lawsuit against her former husband, billionaire Steve Cohen, was given the green light by a New York court. Ms. Cohen and her divorce attorney filed the lawsuit accusing Mr. Cohen of hiding assets during their 1990 divorce. In 2011, Ms. Cohen's lawsuit had been dismissed because the court determined that her allegations of fraud were stale and too unsubstantiated. However, recently the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Ms. Cohen's claims were not too old considering the fact that she only uncovered the evidence sited in support of them in 2008.

The basis of Ms. Cohen's lawsuit, as she alleges, is that Mr. Cohen failed to disclose a $9 million investment during their settlement process. Mr. Cohen invested $9 million in co-op apartments in 1986 and claimed during the divorce proceedings that he lost the entire investment. If true, Mr. Cohen's net worth was only approximately $8 million at the time of divorce. Therefore, a $9 million dispute is significant considering the parties financial circumstances at the time. Although Mr. Cohen claimed the investment was completely lost, Ms. Cohen suspected he was lying. However, it was not until 2008 that Ms. Cohen found court documents suggesting her suspicions were correct. It was this discovery that prompted her to contact her attorney and file the lawsuit against her former husband.

Assets Hidden in Divorce

Del Mar divorce lawyers have a variety of tools they can use to discover undisclosed assets such as Demands for Inspection, Special Interrogatories, Form Interrogatories, or even through the subpoena process. However, despite everyone's best efforts, assets can still be hidden by clever spouses. If a family law attorney does not know that an asset exists, he or she will not know which questions to ask, which documents to ask for, or which entities to send subpoenas to. If the attorney suspects a particular asset exists, he or she may still encounter the same roadblocks without information regarding where the asset may be located.

In many cases, San Diego family law attorneys are able to discover all of the parties' assets. However, this does not change the fiduciary duties both spouses owe to each other. Specifically, both spouses have a legal obligation to disclose all assets, liabilities, income and expenses. Divorce attorneys in Del Mar are well aware of this, and if the court determines one spouse has breached this duty while the other has not, it must award sanctions in favor of the complying party. Monetary sanctions will be awarded in an amount sufficient to deter repetition of the poor conduct. The exact amount will be dependent on the net worth and income of the breaching spouse. If a spouse discovers an undisclosed asset after settlement or after trial, he or she may still seek remedies from the court.


Contact The Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford, APC at (858) 793-8884 if you are considering consulting with a divorce lawyer. Ms. Bickford is the only lawyer in San Diego County representing clients, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Whether you are curious about property division in divorce, or have questions regarding premarital agreements, don't settle for less when determining your rights.

Divorce-attorneys-logo.jpg