Can a divorce case be reopened with the discovery of assets?

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2022 | Divorce

In Oregon, to come to a fair conclusion as to how the assets are split during property division, it is imperative that there be a full accounting of what is there. If assets are either missed, omitted by mistake or are intentionally hidden, it can have a major impact on the case. If this has happened after the case is concluded, it is important to know how to reopen the divorce case and what the law says about this potentially difficult situation.

How the court will handle assets discovered after a completed divorce

The court will reopen the case if there are substantial assets found. The assets can belong to one or both parties. For the case to be reopened, the assets must have existed when the judgment was made and were not found until after the judgment. The case will be assessed differently depending on whether the assets were intentionally hidden or it was a simple mistake. For the latter, the court will reopen the case to distribute the assets fairly. It is different if the assets were hidden with the intention of keeping them from being subject to property division.

When the assets were hidden on purpose, the court can divide them based on their appreciated value; order that the assets be forfeited to the party who was not advised of their existence beforehand; order compensation; order punitive damages; and make other determinations to come to a fair conclusion. There can also be an order for the party who hid the asses to pay legal fees of the damaged party. The filing for unintentionally omitted assets must be made within two years of their discovery but not later than three years following the judgment. If it was intentional, it must be done within two years after it was discovered but no later than 10 years after the judgment.

To reopen a case because of omitted assets, assistance may be useful

The objective with property division in an Oregon divorce is to come to a fair outcome. That is only possible if all the assets are accounted for. Whether the assets were inadvertently withheld or a person, for example, had a hidden bank account or other assets, it is vital to know what the law says about reopening the case. It is preferable to ensure all the marital property is accounted for beforehand, but if it is not and it is found out later that assets that should have been included were not, having assistance to deal with the misstep is key.