Uncovering Hidden Assets in a Divorce

DuPage County Family Law Attorneys

When a couple divorces, one of the most important parts of the divorce process is the division of their marital assets. Marital assets are the assets that the couple obtained or created during their marriage, such as a small business they built together or the home they purchased. These are examples of “big,” tangible marital assets. But marital assets go beyond these types of property. Marital assets can include savings and retirement accounts, investments, and valuable personal items like jewelry, art, electronics, and vehicles. Even the cash the couple has on hand is a marital asset. In contrast, each spouse might also have singly-held assets, which are assets that he or she acquired either before entering the marriage or through a gift or inheritance given directly to him or her. For example, if an individual’s father died and he or she obtained a portion of his estate, the assets received this way are the recipient’s singly-held assets. Singly-held assets are not subject to division in a divorce.

In order to divide a couple’s marital assets equitably under Illinois law, the court must have an accurate record of the couple’s assets. This can be reported by the couple or their accountant. Sometimes, an individual will attempt to hide assets in an effort to avoid having to share them with his or her spouse. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets from you, work with an experienced divorce lawyer to uncover these assets and ensure that your marital estate is divided fairly.

How Would An Individual Hide Assets?

There are many ways an individual may hide assets from his or her spouse. A few examples of methods commonly used to hide marital assets include:

  • Making large purchases in cash, such as vehicles, furniture, and collectable items;
  • Moving bank accounts into another party’s name, such as a close friend or family member;
  • Creating fake expenses, such as working with a friend or family member’s “consulting services;”
  • Overpaying the Internal Revenue Service to collect a large refund the following year;
  • Making a series of small cash purchases and withdrawals from a shared checking account; and
  • Postponing a raise or promotion until after the divorce is finalized.

How Are Hidden Assets Uncovered?

In many marriages, there is an “in spouse” and an “out spouse.” The in spouse is the spouse who managed all of the couple’s finances, such as their investments and retirement accounts. Often, the out spouse is unaware of the true state of the couple’s finances, making it very easy for the in spouse to hide assets. If you are the out spouse in your marriage, ask your partner for a copy of your full financial record.

The process of uncovering hidden assets is known as discovery. Your attorney might need to perform the discovery process to determine the full picture of your financial situation as a couple, which can include any or all of the following:

  • Document demands. Your attorney can require your spouse to produce certain documents, such as tax records, pay stubs, or loan records;
  • Testimony under oath. Your spouse may be required to undergo an oral deposition, which is an interview in which he or she must answer questions pertaining to your divorce under oath. An individual who lies during a deposition may face fines;
  • Interrogation. Also known as a request for admission, this is a written request that your spouse answers certain questions about your marital assets; and
  • An inspection demand. Your attorney may ask to personally inspect a place where your spouse may be hiding assets, such as a safe deposit desk, his or her study, or a collection. The discovery process can turn up a substantial number of documents, which your attorney might then take to an accountant to determine your marriage’s net worth. With this figure and accurate information about the assets and comprise it, the court can then divide your property fairly.

Work with an Experienced DuPage County Family Law Firm

You have the right to a fair division of your assets in a divorce. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets from you, talk to an experienced divorce lawyer immediately to investigate the situation. To get started with a member of our team of DuPage County divorce attorneys, contact Abear Law Offices at (630) 904-3033. We are available to answer your questions and provide you with the quality representation you deserve during your divorce.

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