In many cases, when divorces turn nasty, it is because of disputes over property. Each spouse believes they are absolutely entitled to an asset that was given to the couple or that they purchased together, such as a car or a couch. Hiding a new car is not very easy, of course, but, spouses may think they can hide other, less tangible assets from their former spouses to avoid splitting it during the divorce. Fortunately, there are several procedures available to locate these assets and ensure you get your equitable share of the marital property.
How Assets Are Hidden During a Divorce
Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that all property acquired by either spouse may be divided into three categories during divorce: marital property, non-marital property, and commingled property.
Non-marital property is anything a spouse obtains on their own, such as an inheritance or gift from a relative. A former spouse has no right to this property. Marital property includes assets that the couple obtained together, such as a home or bank accounts. Commingled property is the murkiest part of the law and leads to the most disputes in divorce cases. Commingled property is created when one spouse takes non-marital property, such as an inheritance, and contributes it towards marital property, such as a house, or when non-marital bank accounts are combined.
However the asset is defined under the law, there are still several common methods used to hide money or stocks in a divorce. These include transferring the property into another person’s name, opening new, secret bank accounts, or paying too much to the IRS one year to later collect a refund. In the case of more physical assets such as jewelry, these may be hidden away in a safety deposit box.
Using the Legal Process to Locate Hidden Assets
A court must be apprised of all of the property owned by a couple before making a decision about how to distribute it. Attorneys can often uncover most hidden assets during the discovery phase of a case. This includes sending interrogatories and requests to produce information on these assets. Lying on these documents is considered perjury, and refusing to comply may result in a finding of contempt of court. Depositions can also be effective ways of uncovering hidden assets. If a former spouse has concocted an elaborate story about what happened to marital property that can no longer be accounted for, intense questioning by an attorney will often trip them up, and lead to the production of the assets in question.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
It is unfortunate how many divorces play out, with spouses sometimes feeling that they need to hide assets from each other to “win” the case, when divorce is ultimately about coming to a reasonable agreement about splitting property. An experienced family law attorney can help negotiate an amicable resolution to your divorce case. Contact our compassionate DuPage County family law attorneys today for a consultation.