How to Find Hidden Assets in a Divorce

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Property Division in Illinois

Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs how property is divided upon divorce. Under the IMDMA, the division of property in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage is treated much like asset distributions when dissolving a business partnership.

Under Illinois law, all property acquired during marriage is considered to be part of the marital estate, which is subject to equitable division at divorce. “Equitable division” of marital property does not necessarily mean an equal split between spouses. Conversely, non-marital property can include property acquired by either spouse through inheritance or by way of a transaction that occurred before the marriage began or after a court issues a final judgment of legal separation, however exceptions can apply,

Each spouse must disclose all assets over which they may have an ownership interest — that way, a court can make legal findings regarding the marital or non-marital character of such assets.

Methods of Concealing Assets

Because an asset might be up for grabs in a divorce proceeding, some people are tempted to omit, conceal, or disguise certain valuable assets to prevent a family law court from classifying it as marital property to which both spouses might enjoy a part ownership interest.

A party may try to hide assets in the following manner:

  • Omitting assets from disclosures
  • Transferring assets to an “insider” (friend, relative, or business associate)
  • Colluding with employers to delay issuing paychecks, bonuses, or stock options
  • “Repaying” an illegitimate “debt” to an insider
  • Placing assets in an undisclosed trust

Discovering Hidden Assets

Uncovering disguised or hidden assets can be a complicated process. This is typically a resource-intensive endeavor that requires the professional services of a forensic accountant or a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

However, the search for hidden assets usually starts with the “discovery” process. Much of the litigation process involves searching and learning about pertinent information from the other party. This process may be conducted by demanding the other party answer specific questions under oath or by producing evidence such as financial documents, which can lead to the discovery of information relevant to your divorce.

Critical documents for finding hidden assets include:

  • Tax Form 1040 regarding a party’s income from work, interest, and dividends
  • Tax Form 1040 for retirement income
  • Income Tax Refunds
  • Tax Schedules A through E regarding a party’s tax deductions, foreign financial accounts, profit and loss statements from a business, and supplemental income and expenses from real estate, intellectual property, and business investments
  • Bank account statements
  • Loan applications
  • Credit card statements
  • Estate planning documents
  • Business registrations with the Secretary of State
  • Documents related to the legal change of name

Consult The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. for Legal Advice

The legal implications that stem from property division issues in a divorce case can be complicated. To help ensure your rights and interests over marital property are adequately preserved, you should seek the professional legal advice of a skilled Illinois attorney with experience regarding hidden assets in divorce cases. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., we have years of experience handling such cases. Led by Attorney Jonathan Merel, our legal team is committed to assessing the full extent of your legal rights when it comes to dividing marital property. We won’t leave a penny’s worth of asset value on the table when it comes to litigating property matters in divorce cases.

You can count on the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. to zealously advocate for your rights. Contact our office at (312) 487-2795.
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