Tag Archives: hidden assets

Finding Your Spouse’s Hidden Assets

hidden assets, Wheaton divorce attorneysSometimes, divorces get ugly, as we all know. The most common way that spouses try to hurt each other during divorce, aside from arguing over their children, is to attempt to gain the upper hand in terms of property distribution by any means necessary—including the hiding of assets. If you suspect your spouse of hiding assets, there are multiple methods that can be used to help uncover the wrongdoing, either on your own or with professional help.

Methods for Your Lawyer

In a divorce, your attorney is your primary resource if you suspect your spouse has committed a financial misdeed. There are multiple legal documents used during the civil process of divorce, especially during discovery, in which a party is bound by law to tell the truth, and they must do so in very specific ways, providing very specific information. Both parties are bound to comply with any discovery request that the court deems reasonable, which will usually be most of them.

If your attorney tailors their discovery requests appropriately, you can request significant amounts of information from your spouse. Written interrogatories, for example, are commonly used during discovery where a party will be asked to answer questions or confirm or deny a given statement. Another common tool is inspections. Either party may inspect assets like collections or safety deposit boxes at any time in most divorce cases, and the inspection may or may not turn up information pointing to deception or other property-related wrongdoings. Depositions of your spouse or of relevant financial professionals can also shed light on potential issues, though in many situations, discovery depositions cannot be used at trial.

Methods Involving Outside Professionals

If you believe there has been asset misappropriation on a larger scale, you may want to call in professional help, such as a forensic accountant. A forensic accountant is a financial professional who is also versed in how to spot potential fraud or other financial-related crimes. They have the capability to investigate asset transfers and other potentially unethical behavior, especially if there is a family business involved.

Forensic accountants and CPAs can also work hand in hand with other professionals like business valuation experts and tax lawyers. The key to discovering hidden assets is to search for patterns, and different financial experts may be well suited to identify different patterns. It may seem excessive to hire outside help, but sometimes a financial puzzle is so complex that a larger team is needed.

Consult a Knowledgeable Attorney

If you suspect your spouse of hiding assets that may be yours by right, your first step is to speak to a good attorney. Contact an experienced Wheaton property division lawyer to get the help you need today. Call 630-871-1002 for a free, no-obligation consultation at any of our three convenient locations.




Dealing With a Spouse Who Is Hiding Assets

hiding, Wheaton divorce attorneysWhen a marriage is clearly headed for divorce court, sometimes one or both spouses will resort to practices that are not strictly acceptable; some may even be unlawful. Hiding assets is one of the most common of these practices, but its commonality does not make it easier to spot. Some spouses are very successful at hiding assets with other people or in alternate accounts, but there are ways that you can discover such actions and obtain some manner of restitution.

Full Financial Disclosure Is Required

Illinois law demands both spouses provide a full accounting of all marital and non-marital property once divorce proceedings have begun. At the beginning, it can be easier for assets to be hidden, especially by the spouse that governs the household finances, but the discovery process, where both spouses must provide financial records and other documents, can make that much more difficult even if someone does not make a full disclosure. Forensic accountants can trace expenditures through transactions that can otherwise look innocent, and discovery is the time when it is easiest to pick up the proverbial trail.

If you do not have the ability to engage outside help, there are tricks more often used than others to hide assets, simply because they work. Some of them include “selling” or “willing” items to friends and family members seeming at random, purchasing items that are easily undervalued like artwork or vintage automobiles, changing passwords to financial accounts—sometimes even shared ones—and reporting lower amounts of income than are actually being received. All of these are, at the very least, ethical violations, as the financial disclosure each spouse must submit has the force of a statement under oath.

When He or She Gets Caught

If you are successful in catching your spouse in hiding assets, the court has multiple options in deciding how to handle such a matter. Generally, the outcome will depend on the specific nature of the alleged misuse. Illinois law does not permit any kind of punitive redistribution of assets; the relevant statute specifically says that assets will be divided equitably, “without regard to marital misconduct,” but sometimes a court will hold that the value of the hidden asset should be awarded to the spouse who was disadvantaged by its hiding. This is seen as an equitable remedy; if a person is deprived of tangible property, he or she may not be able to get that specific property back, but he or she can be awarded its fair market value.

In extreme cases, your spouse may be found in contempt of court, especially if a judge can determine that their conduct flouts or disrespects the court’s authority. This can lead to you being awarded attorney’s fees, or sometimes it will lead to a court ruling against the spouse in contempt with regard to the disposition of other assets. While the law does not permit you being awarded a greater share of the marital estate in response to a spouse hiding assets, there are numerous equitable remedies—those that make up for what you have lost as opposed to remedies that give you more than what you had—in such a situation.

Get Help Finding Hidden Assets

It can seem intimidating when you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets and you are uncertain how to find them. Having a good lawyer on your side can help you feel less alone. Our skilled DuPage County divorce attorneys can help you determine how best to approach what can be a time-consuming and exhausting process. Contact our office today to set up a free consultation.





Hiding Assets in Digital Currencies

bitcoin, Wheaton divorce attorneysA common concern in divorce cases is that one spouse may be hiding assets from the other. In the past, hiding assets might have involved stashing cash in a safety deposit box the other spouse does not know about or transferring an investment account into the name of another family member. In the digital age, however, there is another method an unscrupulous spouse might employ—using marital assets to purchase Bitcoins.

Hiding Money in Digital Wallets

You may have heard of Bitcoin and similar digital currencies without understanding exactly how they work. Essentially, Bitcoin is an independent financial network that allows individuals to send electronic payments to one another. These payments are expressed in units of “Bitcoins,” which are not physical currency but rather the product of a complex encryption algorithm. This is why Bitcoin is often called a “cryptocurrency.”

Bitcoin may attract a spouse looking to hide assets because there is no central bank or regulatory authority overseeing the exchange of funds. Each individual Bitcoin user stores their units in a unique identifying address that is similar to an email account but commonly called a “wallet.” There is no way to access the Bitcoins except through the wallet.

In theory, a spouse can hide Bitcoin assets by keeping his or her wallet on a computer or smartphone that the other spouse cannot access, including a device physically located outside of the United States. Additionally, a person can purchase Bitcoin in cash from an existing user without leaving any paper trail. Unless the other spouse can somehow identify which wallet belongs to their partner, it may be impossible to trace these hidden assets.

Contrary to popular belief, however, Bitcoin is not 100 percent anonymous. Bitcoin and other digital currencies depend on a technology known as the blockchain, which refers to a common ledger shared among all users. In other words, every Bitcoin user has a copy of every Bitcoin transaction. So, if you are able to identify which wallet belongs to your spouse, you will be able to see every transaction he or she has made with other Bitcoin wallets.

Hiding Assets From Your Spouse Is Risky and Illegal

Hiding assets through Bitcoin is financially dangerous. Bitcoin is an unregulated and still-developing technology. Its value can fluctuate wildly with demand, making it less safe than most other investments. In the wake of Bitcoin’s popularity, a number of unstable and outright fraudulent cryptocurrencies have managed to dupe investors looking to make a quick buck.

Risks aside, hiding assets through Bitcoin or any other method is also illegal. Spouses have a legal obligation to disclose all of their assets in a divorce proceeding. If they attempt to hide or conceal assets, the court may take appropriate action to ensure the other spouse receives an equitable share.

If you have any reason to believe your spouse is hiding assets from you, you need to speak with a qualified DuPage County family law attorney right away. Do not dismiss your concerns as unfounded. Schedule a consultation today by contacting one of our three convenient office locations.