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Colorado Court of Appeals: Husband's Failure to Provide Full Disclosure Regarding Pre-Marital Portion of Pension Justifies Reopening Divorce Proceeding



Information Provided by: Marc A. Rapaport

The decision issued by the Colorado Court of Appeals in the case of Schelp v. Schelp provides a vivid example of how dangerous it is for a party to conceal or understate the value of their retirement assets in a divorce proceeding. In the Schelp case, after the parties' marriage was dissolved, the wife discovered that the husband egregiously understated his premarital interest in a pension. During the divorce proceeding, the husband claimed that he began accruing an interest in the pension only 23 days before the marriage. In fact, he was employed with pension benefits for more than 10 years before the marriage.

The relief entered by the trial court inflicted a severe punishment on the husband for his willful misrepresentations. Initially (during the divorce proceedings) the parties had agreed to split the marital portion of the husband's pension. After the case was reopened, the trial court amended the permanent orders, and it awarded the wife the entire marital portion of the pension. The trial court's decision was affirmed on appeal.

The bottom line: failing to fully disclose your assets in a divorce case is both unethical and very dangerous.
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