How Do I Prove My Ex Is Hiding Marital Assets?
When a married couple reaches a point in their lives in which they believe their bond is broken irretrievably, divorce seems like a reasonable approach. However, whether the couple or one of the spouses has a high net worth or not, either one of them may try to hide marital assets so that they don’t have to split them as per Illinois law. If you think your spouse is trying to do this, hire a high-net-worth divorce lawyer in Chicago immediately.
Division of Marital Assets in Illinois
According to Illinois law, marital assets can include the following:
- Real estate
- Home appliances
- Retirement plans
- Stocks and stock options
- Insurance policies
In Illinois, marital property and assets undergo equitable distribution, which means they must be split fairly but not necessarily 50/50. Any assets that were acquired when the spouses were married must be divided and not those that were acquired before the marriage unless one spouse contributed to its value in some way (such as a business, which both run).
In this case, the contributing spouse with help from a high net worth divorce lawyer in Chicago may be able to get reimbursement as per its increase in value.
A gift or inheritance can be considered as personal property even if it was bestowed during the marriage. A prenup or postnuptial agreement can also be used to categorize certain assets as personal property but that must be done before the marriage. Anything that is labeled as separate property belongs to the spouse who acquired it.
As you can see, asset division can be quite a complex process since it involves several different types of properties from debts to physical items. However, some can go undetected especially if one spouse tries to hide them. Some of the marital assets that a spouse can try and hide before divorce proceedings include the following:
- Stocks and bonds
- Frequent flyer miles
- Income tax refunds
- Timeshare properties
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement benefits
- Seasonal tickets
- Retirement benefits
- Memberships to exclusive clubs
Hidden assets can also involve several illegal activities such as loopholes and fraud. The discovery of said assets can ensure you are not left out and get what you deserve from the split. If discovered, the spouse that hid the assets can face criminal charges and violations can result in perjury and contempt of court.
How To Search for Hidden Assets During A Divorce
With the help of a high net worth divorce lawyer in Chicago, you can avoid being the victim in this case. Here are some places you can find hidden assets:
While hiding assets in tax returns is a crime that is punishable with hefty fines and jail time, that doesn’t mean your spouse will not try to fudge the records to suit his/her needs. Go back at least five (5) years and check for income inconsistencies in your tax returns. You may find partnerships or even real estate holdings you had no idea he/she owned.
Trace Accounts and Cash Flow
Trace accounts and cash flow during the marriage. By tracing all the money that went in and out of accounts, you may discover hidden assets. For a thorough job, your accountant and high net worth divorce lawyer in Chicago will need account records that are under your name or both of your names. This includes trust accounts, checking accounts, savings accounts among others that either of you used.
Also, make sure you also ask for canceled checks including copies of wire transfer documents. It will help you determine if your spouse authorized major transactions that you were not aware of. Also, find out where that money went. If it went as a gift to a relative that your spouse may get back post-divorce or in a joint account with another party, you have grounds to press charges.
Deposits and withdrawals may also reveal unusual activity like this. If you or your high net worth divorce lawyer in Chicago find any, make copies of all of the account statements before you officially separate.
One of the best places to get proof of hidden marital assets is the courthouse. If your spouse ever borrowed money for a mortgage company or from the bank, the records will be filed there. The loan application will also contain a list of assets they own as an estimation of their value. Since lying on such applications is a federal crime, you will be able to get a clear idea as to the assets they have or are hiding.
The Tax Assessor’s Office
If any cash has been used from a savings account to purchase real estate, the information pertaining to it can be found at the tax assessor’s office. This includes other assets such as any pieces of land or additional homes your spouse may own and did not declare during asset division. You can also find their addresses as well as their taxable value.
Your Spouse’s Boss
Your spouse’s boss may have been coaxed into hiding your spouse’s assets by say waiting before giving them a bonus till after the divorce. This can also include stock options, pay raises, and retirement benefits. If these are not declared during the asset division, you may miss out and may also have difficulty asking for your share later.
Your Spouse’s Friends and Family Members
A friend or family member of your spouse may help him/her hide assets till the divorce is finalized. This can be anything from making up fake debts with the understanding that they will be settled afterward when your hands are tied. If your spouse was having an affair, assets may have been used to pay for rent, vacations, presents, etc.
If you have children, your spouse may have created an account under their name and may be using it to hide assets. Ask your accountant or high net worth divorce lawyer in Chicago to investigate. Your spouse may also have transferred some to family members which he/she may get later. Make sure their activity is investigated as well so you can get a full picture of all the marital assets you are privy to.
How Hidden Assets Factor Into A Divorce
The issue with hidden assets is that if they are not disclosed, you may not be able to get the full valuation of the marital assets you are privy to. That is why you should hire an accountant as well as a high net worth divorce lawyer in Chicago so you can do everything possible to discover them before it is too late.
That is not to say that nothing can be done if hidden assets are discovered post-divorce. If you suspect your spouse is hiding marital assets, get in touch with your attorney as soon as possible. He/she may be able to reopen the case and request the court to force your spouse to submit information regarding said assets. When that happens, the court will decide how they are split keeping in mind the fact that they were hidden. In this case, you may get the lion’s share.
Some of the factors that they may consider when dividing marital property include the following:
- Obligations or rights pertaining to the previous marriage.
- The length of the marriage.
- The total value of the marital property.
- Terms of pre or post-nuptial agreements if any.
- Tax consequences from property division.
- If marital property will be awarded along with spousal maintenance or in lieu of it.
- Misuse or dissipation of marital funds such as the discovery of hidden assets.
- Allocation of parental responsibilities aka child custody.
- The liabilities, health, employability, income, needs, vocational skills, and age of each of the two spouses.
Hire a High Net Worth Divorce Attorney Today
Hidden assets are often extremely difficult to find. Spouses usually go to great lengths to hide them so discovering them on your own can be a challenge. A divorce attorney who is experienced in this type of investigation will prove invaluable for you. They have access to some of the best forensic accountants who can ferret out hidden assets such as properties, cash, and others that you are also entitled to.
If you are in this position, get in touch with us at the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov today. We can not only help you understand the divorce process, we can also aid you in investigating potentially hidden assets that can protect your future interests.
Our high net worth divorce lawyer in Chicago has years of experience handling a range of high-end divorce cases that were worth millions if not more. They will ensure that you do not miss out or are treated unfairly during the proceedings. Get in touch with us for a consultation today by dialing (847) 242-1299.