Tag Archives: hidden assets

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.




Finding Hidden Assets in an Illinois Divorce

hidden assets, DuPage County divorce lawyerDivorces can be complicated, and when you believe your spouse is hiding high-value assets to prevent the court from seeing the whole picture in terms of your family’s finances, the proceedings can get that much more complex. Hidden assets can directly affect the outcome of your divorce and must be addressed immediately.

If you have reason to suspect your spouse of hiding assets from the court, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney right away. Your Wheaton family law attorney will have experience locating hidden assets, persuading spouses to be more forthright with the court, and holding difficult or dishonest spouses accountable for hiding information necessary to gauge how the marital assets should be divided.

What Is a Hidden Asset under Illinois Law?

Whether you are recently separated from your spouse or have been living apart for some time, it is possible that your spouse has hidden income or assets of which you are not aware. Hidden assets can take many forms, including secret bank accounts, income from a second job, undisclosed investments and insurance policies, secret business interests, gambling proceeds, undisclosed inheritance or gifts from family, and many others. Hidden assets can also be physical assets, such as property interests, jewelry, collections, or other valuables.

Sometimes, spouses seeking to hide assets from the court will give cash or items of value to their friends or family members with the objective of retrieving the valuable items after the divorce has been finalized. This practice is sometimes referred to as dissipation or fraudulent transfer of marital assets, and courts typically do not look favorably upon it, since it prevents the equitable division of the marital property.

Methods of Discovery Available to Identify Hidden Assets

Family law attorneys experienced in locating hidden assets in divorce cases have several tools at their disposal to level the playing field and make sure that all marital assets are out in the open when determining equitable asset division and other matters related to divorce. Your divorce attorney may utilize a number of discovery tactics including:

  • Subpoenaing employers, bank statements, and records;
  • Posing questions that your spouse must answer in writing with help from his or her attorney;
  • Working with financial institutions;
  • Consulting accountants and tax experts;
  • Reviewing tax records for accuracy and asset disclosure;
  • Analyzing insurance policies and records;
  • Examining credit reports from all credit reporting bureaus;
  • Reviewing recent business transactions;
  • Interviewing and deposing witnesses and financial experts; and
  • Following the paper trail to find “missing” money.

Consult an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Illinois

It is important that you begin working with your passionate Wheaton divorce attorney who handles finding hidden assets as soon as possible, so that he or she may locate any hidden assets in time for the asset and its value to be considered during your divorce proceedings. If the asset is not located until after the division of assets has been completed, you may have to initiate a new court proceeding in order for the court to take that asset into account.




Common Ways Spouses Try to Avoid Spousal and Child Support Judgments

dissipation, DuPage County family law attorneysWhen a court awards spousal maintenance or child support, the judge will look at the income and assets of each party. This is often a fairly routine matter, but in some cases–particularly divorces where a large number of assets are involved–spouses unfortunately attempt to hide what they have or transfer property to reduce their future maintenance or support payments.

While uncommon, it is important to understand how spouses attempt to avoid these obligations and what you can do to ensure assets are accurately counted before a court enters a judgment.

Dissipating Marital Assets in Illinois

One issue that pops up in cases where spouses are attempting to avoid judgments is the dissipation of assets. Dissipation is any use of marital property, such as joint checking accounts or credit cards, for personal benefit rather than for the benefit of the marriage. This might include a spouse purchasing a personal vehicle or renting an apartment on his or her own. Dissipation claims get more complicated if a spouse purchases something that may be used for both parties, such as furniture or a vehicle that the couple uses together. But if you can show that your spouse was spending money just for the purpose of keeping it out of a divorce case, you will have a strong case for dissipation.

Also making these claims difficult is the fact that the dissipation must have occurred while the marriage is in the course of an “irretrievable breakdown,” which is a term that does not have any objective meaning. Therefore, each claim for dissipation must be considered individually.

Likely because of this, Illinois courts also require that they receive notice of such a claim before it is filed, and the statute of limitations for bringing a dissipation claim is usually three years.

Hiding Assets in Illinois

Another way that spouses attempt to affect how much they pay in support is by hiding assets. This can occur if a spouse has kept accounts or investments that the other spouse was never aware of, but, more frequently, assets are hidden through fraudulent transfers. A fraudulent transfer is the transfer of any asset to a friend or other relative at a cost that is fair below market value. For example, selling a $20,000 car to a sibling for $2,000 is a classic example of a fraudulent transfer.

Illinois courts are particularly harsh on fraudulent transfers. Spouses who engage in this conduct can be charged with perjury, fraud, or contempt of court. Additionally, if a hidden asset is discovered, a court will usually award a larger portion of the marital estate to the spouse that did not engage in this conduct.

Contact an Experienced Illinois Family Law Attorney

While many couples are able to resolve their differences amicably, some divorces, unfortunately, can get extremely messy. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets or transferring them to others to pay less in spousal or child support, you will need an attorney on your side who can look through financial records and get you your fair share. Contact our office today discuss your case with a compassionate DuPage County family law attorney.