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Rhode Island Supreme Court Case Looks at Hidden Assets During Divorce

In a case heard by the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the court evaluated a lower court decision involving hidden assets during a divorce. The parties were married for about nine years by the time the divorce was finalized. The divorce trial took 12 days and the decision issued was 59 pages. The family court magistrate issued its decision in March of 2016 with findings that included that there were irreconcilable differences and the breakdown of the marriage was irremediable. Thus, the divorce was granted.

However, a couple of months after the magistrate issued their decision, the wife filed a motion to allow further evidence to alter or amend judgement. In this motion, the plaintiff argued that there was newly discovered evidence that showed her ex-husband had concealed financial information during the divorce proceedings. The magistrate dismissed all of the issues except for one. The remaining issue involved the defendant’s failure to disclose at trial that he had sold a specific piece of property referred to as the Tourtellot property.

The defendant had purchased the Tourtellot property before the marriage using his own separate funds. However, during the marriage the plaintiff had helped to improve the property, which increased the value. Therefore, the magistrate found that the failure of the defendant to disclose during the trial that the property was sold affected the rights of his ex-wife. The magistrate then compensated the plaintiff by awarding her 60% of the difference between the purchase price and the sale price of the property. He also ordered her ex-husband to pay this amount in one lump sum.

On appeal the trial justice narrowed all of the issues down to four: whether the profit from the sale was marital property, whether ordering the lump-sum payment was error, whether the magistrate should have ordered the plaintiff to turn over specific property, and whether the magistrate should have found the defendant in contempt. The trial judge affirmed all of the decisions of the magistrate, but they amended the decision to correct a math error.

The plaintiff once again appealed this decision, pro se, this time to the Rhode Island Supreme Court which resulted in the instant case. The Supreme Court held that none of the issues were properly before the court and thus they refused to rule on them leaving the findings of the family court undisturbed.

Penalties for Hiding Assets During Divorce

If one party hides assets during a divorce, there are a number of penalties they could potentially face. These penalties include a party being held in contempt of court. The court may also require the spouse that hid assets to pay the other spouse the amounts in question, as happened here. While this case does not make it clear, it appears that the court granted the wife 60% instead of the standard 50% because the husband attempted to hide the assets. Along the same lines, the court may also order one spouse to pay additional spousal support or to turn over additional assets.

Contact One of Our Experienced Rhode Island Divorce Attorneys Today!

As this case shows, it is crucial that any issues are properly brought before the court. Otherwise they may refuse to hear them. That is part of the reason why it is so important to work with knowledgeable Rhode Island divorce attorneys like the attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC. Contact them today by using the form on this website or calling us at (401) 300-4055.

See Related Posts:

Rhode Island Supreme Court Upholds Post-Employment Compensation Split in Divorce

Rhode Island Declines to Recognize Couple’s Relationship as Common-Law Marriage


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