During the divorce process, there is a step that lawyers from both sides will take referred to as “discovery.” This is a critical stage in divorce proceedings. The lawyers and judge alike can learn countless insights during discovery, and these facts will help determine what is fairest and most equitable in the divorce judgment. Here is some advice on what you should do if faced with discovery:
4 Tips for Successful Divorce Discovery
Discovery during a divorce is a pretrial process in which both parties will fully disclose information to each other regarding their income and property. During discovery, the parties are permitted to request information from the other side to bolster and support their case with accurate evidence. These discovery requests may include:
Requests for Production of Documents, such as financial statements and taxes
Requests to Admit, in which one party provides the other with statements that they must either agree or disagree with
Interrogatories that ask the parties to answer specific questions
Depositions to enable testimony under oath outside of the courtroom
All of these elements of the discovery process give you the opportunity to obtain comprehensive, in-depth details that can help establish an accurate picture of the relationship and its finances. Ultimately, this is meant to assist the judge in making an informed decision once your lawyers argue their cases. Here are some tips to make sure the discovery process goes smoothly:
Stay calm—Although this process can be intimidating at first, and it often takes quite some time to field all of the requests, you should remain calm and do your best to not get overwhelmed. You should be able to respond to requests and provide any necessary information, and if you do not have access to certain details, you can let the other party know this in your response.
Be honest and forthright—Tell the truth and do not withhold anything. If either spouse is hiding assets or information, it will likely be found at some point, and this could put your divorce settlement in jeopardy.
Cooperate and collaborate with your lawyer—Ask questions of your lawyer whenever necessary, especially if you do not understand what is being asked of you. It is better to ask a question that might seem dumb than to respond untruthfully or incorrectly. Overall, you and your lawyer should be in sync and have a single unified strategy throughout the entire divorce process.
Keep your answers consistent—If you say one thing in an interrogatory and something else during a deposition, your reliability and integrity might get called into question, which could adversely affect your case.
Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer
If you want further details about the divorce process, including the steps followed during discovery, reach out to a Wheaton, IL family law attorney at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation. The knowledgeable team at Andrew Cores Family Law Group will give you the information you need so that you are fully prepared for the legal process of divorce.
Sometimes, by the time people get divorced, they do not even recognize each other anymore. Over the years, a sense of mistrust might have festered. Misgivings about your spouse and his or her motivations often contribute to the decision to file for divorce. As the divorce drives you two even further apart, it becomes easier and easier to keep things from each other. This is when hidden assets become an even greater possibility. If you suspect your spouse might be hiding assets from you and your attorneys, what should you do? There are a few things that require further investigation from you and your lawyers to make sure no asset is left buried.
What to Do During the Hunt for Hidden Assets
Financial fraud during divorce is much easier to commit than it is to expose. There is quite a bit of detective work that goes into finding those hidden assets, bringing them to light, and enabling them to be divided along with other marital property during a divorce. Here are some ways you and your lawyer might be able to hunt for hidden assets:
Take an Inventory—Collect all of the financial documentation for both you and your spouse. Be very thorough and organized in your collection of this paperwork. You need to have a strong baseline to judge your financial picture against that of your spouse. If you notice specific inconsistencies, then you know where to look first for possible hidden assets.
Study Tax Returns—Tax returns can reveal a great deal about a spouse’s financial history. By comparing tax returns from year to year, you and your attorney will be able to more easily decipher the data and discover hidden assets. For instance, there could be some itemized deductions (on Schedule A); interest and dividends (on Schedule B); business profits or losses (on Schedule C); capital gains and losses (on Schedule D); or supplemental income and losses (on Schedule E) that can indicate what might be missing from the finances your spouse is reporting.
Review Mortgage Documentation—When you apply for a mortgage, you must report all of your finances. The underwriters put you through a comprehensive and stringent auditing process that provides a clear and in-depth picture of your finances. They cannot give you and your spouse that mortgage without such detailed due diligence. That is why those papers are so important to your search for hidden assets. There might be assets or properties reported there that were not reported during the divorce.
Conduct a Physical Search—Both actual property and paper trails leading to certain assets might be found in physical locations where you and your spouse keep important items. Consider conducting a search of safes, safe deposit boxes, and other typical “hiding spots” for important possessions.
How Will Your Lawyer Help with the Hunt?
In addition to helping you with all of the aforementioned ways to find hidden assets, your lawyer can also do the following:
Engage in Aggressive Research—Many lawyers are accustomed to searching for—and locating—hidden assets during divorces. They know exactly where to look and how to optimize their research.
Enlist the Help of Industry Experts—Your lawyer may work with a forensic accountant who will review your and your spouse’s tax returns for any inconsistencies. They will investigate your respective financial histories to make sure every last cent is accounted for. If they cannot locate something, they will attempt to find it and arrange for it to be included in your divorce case.
Subpoenas—When you, your lawyer, or financial experts need additional support for your findings, or when you suspect further financial culpability on the part of your spouse, your lawyer has the right to subpoena banks and other similar institutions for supplemental records.
Contact a Wheaton, IL Asset Division Lawyer
The hunt for hidden assets can be long and involved. That is why you need a skilled DuPage County divorce attorney on your side to make sure you leave no financial documents buried. With the assistance of Andrew Cores Family Law Group, you will be able to track down all those hidden assets that you have a hunch about. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation.
There are many ways that spouses attempt to hide marital assets from their wives or husbands. Methods can be as simple as stashing cash in a secret safe deposit box or transferring funds to family members or friends with the intent to recover them once the divorce is finalized. Other methods are somewhat more complex, such as creating offshore bank accounts or asking an employer to delay a large bonus or salary increase until after divorce.
Not only does hiding assets affect the division of property during divorce, but it can also affect child support payments and alimony. A husband or wife that successfully conceals marital property can end up getting away with tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that would have otherwise been distributed to their spouse or used for child support.
Business owners are at a great advantage when it comes to hiding assets during divorce, because there are dozens of ways that significant assets can be concealed. In many cases, a person may attempt to devalue the business, which is the same as stealing money from their spouse.
Unlawful Methods of Devaluing a Business
Small businesses do not always have small profits. In fact, 49 percent of full-time business owners have sales between $100,000 and $1 million per year. Some methods that business owners may use to attempt to reduce the value of their business include:
Failing to Report Cash Payments—A business owner that receives cash may hide these unreported earnings in a safety deposit box or a secret bank account.
Creating a Fake Employee—A spouse may pay a salary to an employee that does not exist, with plans to void those paychecks at a later time.
Prepaying Expenses—A business owner may make payments in advance for certain expenses, such as employee benefits, office supplies or furniture, or raw materials, with the intent of reducing the business’s bottom line.
Overpaying Taxes—A spouse may pay more in taxes than is actually owed, in hopes of receiving a large refund after the divorce has been finalized.
Welcoming Debts—A business owner may allow clients to defer payments until after the divorce is finalized in order to reduce the income earned by the business.
Reach Out to a DuPage County Hidden Asset Attorney
Do not let your spouse cheat you out of your fair share of marital property or use unlawful methods to reduce their child support or spousal maintenance payments. Hold them accountable by hiring an experienced divorce attorney. Here at the Andrew Cores Family Law Group, our attorneys are skilled at uncovering hidden assets, and we will ensure that you receive the marital property and financial support you deserve. Call our Wheaton divorce attorneys today at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation.