Divorce: Identifying When a Spouse is Hiding Assets
The divorce process is a daunting experience for all parties involved. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides several guidelines for families to follow, including the distribution of property or assets, to ease the stress of the situation.
However, the process becomes more difficult when you know your spouse is intentionally hiding assets. Illinois law mandates that marital property be distributed evenly between both parties to the divorce. This includes property or bank accounts acquired after marriage. Commonly, spouses attempt to conceal assets or attempt to deflate their income to ensure they pay lower child support or alimony. There are serious penalties for those who try to hide assets during a divorce.
Scenarios When a Spouse May Hide Assets or Deflate Income
A spouse can hide assets in the following ways:
- If a spouse owns real estate, he or she may try and transfer the property into someone else’s name;
- If a spouse has valuable collectibles (such as art, automobiles, etc.), he or she may hide them with a friend or relative;
- A spouse may withdraw money from a bank account and place it in a safe deposit box in someone else’s name;
- If a spouse is self-employed, he or she can manipulate paychecks or make it look as if his or her business is operating at a loss;
- If a spouse works for a business, he or she may claim that they were demoted and have supervisors or coworkers assist him or her; and
- A spouse may change his or her status on taxes to make the IRS take more taxes out.
Steps to Take to Uncover Hidden Assets
If you firmly believe that your spouse is hiding assets, you have a few options to consider. First, you could hire a private investigator to follow your spouse and see if he or she works a second job or uses a bank that is unknown to you. Second, you could hire a forensic accountant to evaluate your spouse’s finances and bank accounts to see what does not add up.
If these two options are too expensive for you, the discovery phase of your divorce will permit you to seek out information about your spouse’s finances. You will have the power to subpoena your spouse’s employer for employment records. Likewise, you could subpoena the bank for your spouse’s bank statements.
Penalties Associated with Hiding Assets
If your suspicions were right, and your spouse was hiding assets during the divorce process, a few things could happen. The judge could:
- Sanction your spouse and force him or her to pay monetary fines;
- Hold your spouse in contempt of court;
- Force your spouse to give up his or her share in the asset and turn it over to you;
- Force your spouse to pay more support in order to pay the amount that was hidden; or
- Force your spouse to pay you the percentage of money you are owed from the asset.
Consult an Attorney
If you are considering divorce and believe your spouse is hiding assets, please contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney who can assist you through the process and look out for your best interests. Call 630-580-6373 today to schedule your consultation.