Tag Archives: hiding assets

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.





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.




Locating Hidden Assets in the Course of Illinois Divorce

hidden assets, Wheaton divorce lawyersIn 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.