Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Finding Hidden Assets During a Divorce Case

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Family Law in General » Finding Hidden Assets During a Divorce Case

In divorce cases, it is not uncommon for a spouse to try and hide assets from the other spouse and the legal system.  It is important to properly handle such attempts to hide assets.

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In a divorce case in Illinois or Iowa, the court has the authority to divide marital property in an equitable fashion.  Equitable means “fair” and not necessarily 50/50.  So as to try and avoid such property distribution, a spouse may try to hide some assets.  If a spouse is allowed to get away with hiding assets, the result can be significant financial harm to the other spouse.  That harm can take the form of improperly low child support, a lack of spousal support, or an improperly low award of property and money in the divorce case.

Spouses may try to hide assets in a variety of different ways.  Sometimes the approach is a simple as withdrawing money from a bank account.  Other times it is more subtle, to include a failure to disclose the existence of a retirement account.  In other cases, the value of assets may be understated, such as a case where a spouse claims that real estate or personal property is worth less than its actual value.  In still other cases, a spouse may attempt to characterize their own property as property of a relative or friend, or have such a person hold property in their name.  Indeed, there are many ways that a person can attempt to hide an asset in anticipation of a divorce case or during a divorce case.

Finding assets that have been hidden is something that takes time.  The most effective and efficient approach involves making proper use of the Discovery tools available in the Illinois and Iowa legal systems, which include requests for production of documents, interrogatories, requests to admit, depositions, and subpoenas.  In some cases, the use of a private investigator is also warranted, although it is often possible to fully address the matter without expending time and money on a private investigator.  The key thing is to properly handle the matter throughout the case, as waiting until the end of the case to try and find hidden assets is likely to fail.

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