When a couple reaches the point where their marriage is irretrievably broken, they will likely seek a divorce. The process of legally ending a marriage can be complicated, especially if there are a lot of issues to resolve. If spouses are argumentative or bitter, this may only further complicate matters. Part of the divorce proceedings involve dividing any marital property or assets. In some situations, one of the spouses may try to hide monetary funds or other valuable possessions. A study by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 31 percent of spouses with combined assets report they were deceptive about money, and 58 percent of those people admitted to hiding money from their partner or spouse. In divorce cases involving hidden assets, it is imperative to hire professional legal assistance to uncover such deception.
Division of Marital Assets
In the state of Illinois, marital property and assets are divided using the principle of “equitable distribution.” This means they will be split fairly, but not necessarily completely 50/50. Any assets that were acquired during the matrimonial union may be subject to division. Anything that one of the spouses owned prior to the marriage does not have to be split, unless the other spouse contributed to its value in some way. For example, if one party owned a business before getting married, but his or her spouse helped run it during the marriage, that spouse may be able to receive reimbursement for his or her contributions to any increase in the value of the business.
Separate property is considered anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage. However, a gift or inheritance received during the marriage can also be classified as the personal property of one spouse. A prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement may also be used to classify certain assets as separate property. At the time of divorce, any property that is labeled as separate property belongs to the spouse who acquired it.
Types of Assets That Are Often Hidden
Asset division can be a complex process, since it often includes many different types of property, including physical items, financial accounts, and debts. There are some types of property that may be easily hidden. Certain assets may go undetected, especially if only one spouse’s name is on an account, retirement plan, or subscription. Some assets may “fly under the radar;” that is, one spouse may not even be aware of their existence or value. The following are examples of these types of assets:
Stocks or bonds
Health club or country club memberships
Income tax refunds
Life insurance policies
Season tickets (entertainment, sports)
Antiques and collectibles
Hidden assets can involve illegal activities such as fraud, as well as legitimate loopholes. However, manipulating valid processes and procedures for the purpose of defrauding the court or the other spouse is illegal.
The discovery of hidden assets in a divorce case can change the outcome of the property distribution. In addition to the loss of ownership of assets that were hidden, the guilty party could face a permanent criminal record. Violations can result in criminal charges of fraud, contempt of court, and perjury.
Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney
A divorce can be one of the most difficult transitions you will go through in your life, and you deserve your fair share of the property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage. If your spouse is hiding assets from you in order to come out ahead, you should take legal action to ensure that all of your marital assets are divided correctly. At the Andrew Cores Law Group, our attorneys have extensive knowledge of Illinois divorce law, including how to uncover hidden assets. Our Wheaton property division lawyers can help you understand all of your options to make sure you receive a fair settlement. Call our office today at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation.