Absolutely, and they can be quite severe under California law. For the most part, California is what is called a no-fault state. The court isn’t going to spend a lot of time asking why the parties are going to get divorced. They are just going to accept the representation that the marriage is at an end and then energy is going to be spent in terminating that marriage through the legal process. However, if it is determined that one of the spouses has failed to satisfy or meet the disclosure obligations that exist or that spouse has intentionally withheld information, then we can make an exception to the idea of no-fault. California can convert the case to a fault case and then the court can make a disproportionate division of all of the property.
If you and I are getting a divorce and it is found that I have withheld information to your disadvantage, then the court can punish me by giving you all of our marital property. There can be very draconian consequences if there is an intentional failure to disclose or an intentional concealment of information.
John Harding is the principal of the law firm of Harding & Associates in Northern California. He practices family law litigation and divorce mediation exclusively.
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