110 E. Schiller Street, Suite 320, Elmhurst, IL 60126

Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC312-605-4041

CHICAGO
 ⚫ PARK RIDGE
 ⚫ ELMHURST -


Chicago divorce attorney for hidden assetsAlthough we rarely think of marriage in these terms, spouses who get married enter into a financial partnership with each other. Consequently, a marriage represents much more than the romantic or personal connection between spouses. It also represents a melding of the spouses’ finances. Per Illinois law, spouses are entitled to an equitable portion of the marital estate during divorce. Unfortunately, the process of allocating marital property between spouses in a divorce becomes much more complicated when a spouse lies about finances. 

If you are getting divorced, it is essential to understand your rights regarding the division of marital property, child support, spousal maintenance, and other divorce issues. If you suspect that your spouse is lying about finances or may attempt to hide assets during your divorce, contact a divorce attorney for help right away.

Understanding Illinois Law Regarding Marital Assets and Divorce

Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state with regard to the division of assets during a divorce. This means that by law, you have a right to an “equitable” or fair share of the property contained in the marital estate. Most of the property and liabilities accumulated by either spouse during the marriage fall into the category of “marital property.” Marital property often includes bank account balances, retirement funds, investments, real estate, vehicles, and household items like furniture. Complex assets like stock options, mutual funds, businesses, and professional practices may also fall into the category of marital property. If an asset is considered marital property, both spouses are entitled to a share of the asset’s value.

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IL divorce lawyerCompared to many other countries in the world, the United States is fairly young, with rather unique founding principles. Though the U.S. is well known for certain freedoms such as gun ownership, the country also has a reputation for being a good place to live if you want to be a business owner. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were around 30.7 million small businesses owned and operated in the country in 2019.

Owning a small business can be extremely fulfilling, especially if it is a family-run business. However, owning a business can also pose some unique issues during a divorce. Your business is likely one of your biggest and most valuable assets, not to mention your biggest or perhaps even your only source of income. Needless to say, getting divorced when you own a business puts much more than just your business at risk.

How Will Divorce Affect My Business?

What happens at home stays at home, right? Not necessarily. If you own a business and you file for divorce, there is a chance it could follow you back to your workplace. Happily married couples rarely think about what they are going to do in the event that they get a divorce, but when you are a business owner, this is one of the best things you could do. Getting a divorce when you own a business not only puts much stress on you and your spouse and adds to the divorce process, but it can also actually affect the business itself.

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IL divorce lawyerFinances play a huge role in any divorce. Most married couples have combined their financial lives in such a way that undoing this financial entanglement is often quite an undertaking. Division of assets is especially complicated when the couple owns complex assets such as a family business, real estate, investments, trust accounts, or stocks. High net worth and complex assets such as these also make it easier for a spouse to underreport assets and income. If you believe that your spouse may try to hide assets or lie about finances during divorce, reach out to an experienced divorce lawyer right away.

Methods of Hiding Assets and Underreporting Income

In order for a married couple to fairly divide their marital property and resolve other divorce issues, each spouse must be truthful regarding his or her finances. Unfortunately, some divorcing spouses attempt to manipulate property division, spousal support, and child support in their favor by lying about their income and assets. There are almost countless ways that a spouse may falsify his or her financial information to sway the divorce settlement in his or her favor. He or she may transfer assets from joint accounts to accounts that the other spouse does not know about or even transfer assets to friends or colleagues. Some spouses intentionally overpay the IRS in an effort to shelter funds from being divided during divorce. Business owners may delay invoicing clients, fabricate fake expenses, or significantly underreport business revenue.

Red Flags of Financial Deceit During Divorce

Hidden assets, unreported income, and exaggerated expenses can substantially change the divorce settlement that a spouse receives. Divorcing individuals who have allowed their spouses to handle all of the financial decisions and money management are particularly vulnerable to being taken advantage of in this way. It is possible that your spouse may be hiding assets if he or she:

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Il family lawyerFor many people, the largest asset they own is their home. Real estate can make for some tricky situations when it comes to the asset division process of divorce. Everything must be divided, including real estate, like your family home. While cutting your home down the middle will not help you out, there are three viable ways you can deal with your marital home during your divorce: keep the home under joint ownership, sell the home or have one spouse own the home in their name only.

To Appraise or Not to Appraise?

Getting an actual appraisal for your home is an important step in the process. You may think you are able to estimate how much your home is worth, but it is actually in your best interest to get a home appraisal so you have a legitimate figure of how much you are working with. There are many reasons why someone would want to have their home appraised, which include:

  • Ensuring the estimated value of your home is accurate
  • The divorce court requires a current official appraisal of your home
  • The value of your home may have changed since you last had it appraised
  • Having proof of a specific numeric valuation in the case their spouse disputes the value

Preparing for Your Appraisal

During a home appraisal, an inspector will come to your home and assess its value based on square footage, lot size, measurements, photos, the number of rooms in the home, and the condition of the property. The appraiser will also factor in things such as the neighborhood demographics, housing trends, available utilities, and other details about your home.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen you first begin the divorce process, you will likely be advised to come up with a list of issues that matter the most to you -- the ones that you are adamant about fighting for. What is on that list? For some people, their finances are at the top of their list of concerns. The way your finances are handled during your divorce could significantly impact your financial situation after the fact and for years to come.

The first step in successfully managing your finances during your divorce is taking an actual inventory of everything that you and your spouse own. This includes both physical items such as vehicles and jewelry and immaterial items, like bank accounts or retirement funds. Ensuring you have an accurate picture of your financial situation before any decisions are made is crucial. Here are a few tips to help you inventory your assets:

Make a List of Common Assets

Firstly, make a list of any assets that you and your spouse both have ownership to. This should include both physical and immaterial items that are considered marital property and subject to division during the divorce. Physical items can include things such as real estate, vehicles, artwork, or other important and/or expensive assets. Other items that you will want to include on the list are things such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, gym memberships, airline miles, or other immaterial items.

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