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Hiding assets in divorce: It's cruel and illegal

Regardless of what prompted you to file for divorce, you no doubt want to settle things as swiftly and amicably as possible so you can get on with your life. Your spouse's adversarial reaction to your decision may not have been unexpected, but when he or she threatened to make sure you "walk away with nothing," you knew you had a problem on your hands.  

You are definitely not the first person in Illinois to face a contentious spouse during divorce proceedings. That doesn't mean, however, that you have to sit back and do nothing if your spouse is trying to short change when it comes to property and asset division. There are ways to tell if your spouse is hiding assets, and there are things you can do to bring it to the court's attention.  

Confirm the stories 

If your spouse is giving explanations regarding finances that don't seem to add up to you, you can investigate troubling issues to seek confirmation of what your spouse is telling you. For instance, if your spouse says he or she gave a large sum of money to a friend to pay back a loan, you may want to request evidence that the loan took place, especially if you were not aware of it at the time.

Follow the money 

If you have a jointly owned bank account and money is missing, you have every right to ask your spouse where it went. Also, if you suspect a hidden asset problem, you may want to take a look at your spouse's pay stubs and tax returns; spouses often request deferred compensation at work to hide money and sometimes overpay on tax returns to stash away a nice refund for after a divorce. 

Seek a proper valuation of luxury items 

If your spouse starts bringing expensive items home, such as artwork or jewelry, or purchases new property without your consent, it may be an attempt to hide money. A common trick to hide assets in divorce has to do with understating the value of luxury items or property.  

Reach out for support 

The court demands full disclosure and transparency in all property division proceedings. Illinois is an equitable property state, which means the court decides how to fairly split all marital property between you and your spouse. Not only is it not fair if your spouse lies about the value of certain items, or stashes cash away by asking friends to hold it or by stuffing it in the back of a closet, it is illegal and can have highly negative consequences for the one who tries to beat the system.

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