Archive for the ‘Hidden Assets’ Category

Be Wary of Hidden Assets in Divorce

March 13th, 2015 at 8:00 am

hidden assets, division of property, Chicago family law attorneysWhen a couple has reached the end of their marriage and divorce is imminent, both spouses are not often equally prepared. Frequently, the partner with more financial control has begun to plan to for the future and, in some cases, may be taking steps to manipulate asset valuation so as to individually benefit when property is divided in the impending divorce. Although undervalued or hidden assets may be more common among wealthier divorcing couples, lower net-worth families can be affected as much or more by the deceptive and illegal practice.

Who Hides Assets?

Few married couples share responsibility for the family’s finances equally. In many situations, one spouse is responsible for the household budget by paying bills, managing investments, and making all or most major financial decisions. He or she typically maintains unfettered access to all joint accounts and monetary resources. The partner with control of the family’s money is often the one with most opportunity and temptation to use the situation to his or her advantage. However, if the spouse tasked with financial responsibility is not the primary wage-earner, the spouse with the higher income may be inclined to keep assets and resources away from joint accounts, while putting money aside for the post-divorce future.

Where to Find Hidden Assets

While those who hide assets typically do so for one reason – affecting the division of property to his or own benefit – the methods used may differ greatly depending on the situation. Financial experts, however, have identified several of the most common ways a partner may attempt to hide marital assets:

  • Easily Undervalued Purchases: New artwork for her home office or parts for the classic car he is restoring may be more valuable than they seem.
  • Reporting Lower Income at Tax Time: Despite the risk of an IRS audit and subsequent penalties, only officially reported income is used in most financial analyses.
  • Paying More at Tax Time: An intentional overpayment to the IRS or other creditors may be recovered at a later date, presumably to be refunded after completion of the divorce proceedings.
  • Investment Transfers: Stock accounts may be transferred to relatives, business associates, or dummy companies, again, to be recovered later.
  • Physical Hidden Cash: Sometimes, hiding assets may be as simple as putting cash in safety deposit box or under the bed in a shoebox.

Help in Uncovering Hidden Assets

There are countless ways in which a determined individual can try to affect the outcome of property and asset division in divorce. With the rise of digital technology, it has become much more difficult, though, to keep hidden assets from being discovered by legal and financial professionals. Forensic accountants are specifically trained to identify and quantify irregularities in financial records, and in conjunction with a qualified lawyer, can provide invaluable assistance to many complex divorce situations.

If you have reason to believe your spouse has been hiding assets and a divorce seems imminent, our team is ready to go to work for you. Contact an experienced Illinois property division attorney today at Anderson & Associates, P.C. We offer convenient office locations in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago.