Fiduciary Duty In Divorce: What Is It, And Why Is It Important?
When you pledge to love, honor, and cherish one another in your wedding vows, no one can understand what that promise will truly encompass. Even couples who try everything they can to work through the trials life throws at them often find themselves journeying down the path of divorce. Unfortunately, by the time a divorce is well and truly underway, there have already been 1000…2,000 battles fought. Usually lines (many lines) have been drawn and crossed and left behind. When it feels like so many promises and ideas of what your life would be, should be… have been broken and dismantled, the last thing you want to hear is how you have to be mindful of upholding your fiduciary duty to your soon-to-be-former spouse. You may feel that your spouse has, themselves, proven to be inconsiderate and incapable of upholding any such promises to you.
While these kinds of feelings are natural in such a difficult time, it really is in everyone’s best interest – both yourself, and your family’s – to ensure that you both understand and diligently uphold your fiduciary duty to your spouse. Upholding your side of the bargain will both show your decision to act in good faith, and highlight any potential instances of your spouse not choosing the same.
What is a “fiduciary duty”
Generally speaking, spouses owe a fiduciary duty to one another. A fiduciary duty is created when two parties are duty-bound to act in good faith toward one another’s interests. This means that one spouse lying to the other about their finances may be seen by the court as fraudulent and a breach of fiduciary duty. These fiduciary duty breaches might include such acts as trying to conceal money or attempting to lie about assets.
Potential Consequences for Breaching Fiduciary Duty
In the discovery process of a Tennessee divorce, both spouses are expected to maintain their responsibility to be honest and transparent about their finances: to include assets, income, debts, expenses, etc. Even separate property must be disclosed as a part of the discovery process. Refusing to uphold your fiduciary duty or failing to do so can result in court penalties such as:
- Being held in contempt of court
- Charges of Perjury
Pursuing Suspicions of a Fiduciary Duty Breach
If you suspect that your spouse is acting in bad faith and attempting to misconstrue their financial standing, it is important that you rally the right support to help you get to the bottom of things. An experienced divorce attorney is invaluable in helping to navigate these issues. It may also be advisable to hire what is known as a “forensic accountant.” These professionals expertly comb through financial documents to see if they recognize evidence of potentially hidden bank accounts or other assets.
Contact Fort, Holloway & Rogers
The emotional side to divorce is, in itself, incredibly stressful to deal with. Diving into hard-tacks with items such as finances and fiduciary duty can feel overwhelming, considering all that you are already managing. However, these items are incredibly important for ensuring your security in the future. Fort, Holloway & Rogers can help. Our Franklin divorce attorneys know how to advise our clients toward the best possible endpoint in divorce cases. Contact our office today to discuss your case.