Once you’ve reached the decision that a divorce is the only solution to your marital problems, there are a lot of issues to consider. Divorce can impact your social relationships, as well as your financial situation. Most people want to know what to expect during the process of getting divorced and afterward, when they are rebuilding their lives.
Doing adequate research into both Illinois state divorce laws and case precedents can help you understand what to expect. It’s critical to remember that no two marriages or divorces are the same, so nothing can completely and accurately predict the outcome to a divorce (other than an existing prenuptial agreement). If you and your spouse don’t agree to terms, the courts will need to make important decisions on your behalf, including how to divide the assets from your marriage.
The courts can only divide what assets they know about
When you file for divorce, you provide the courts with an inventory of your possessions and other assets, as well as your debts. Doing so helps the courts to see what marital assets you’ve acquired during marriage and the overall value of your marital estate. This, in turn, helps the courts decide how to fairly and equitably divide your assets in accordance with Illinois state law.
In order to skew the asset division process in one person’s favor, unscrupulous people may intentionally hide assets from the courts or their spouses. The idea is that if no one knows the assets exist, the courts can’t divide them up between spouses. Unless you signed a prenuptial agreement allowing for extensive separate, personal assets during marriage, hiding assets violates both the letter and the spirit of divorce law.
Finding hidden assets can be a difficult task
The greater the overall value of your marital property and the higher your family’s annual income, the greater the potential and incentive for hidden assets. Simply reviewing your retirement account and checking account statements won’t provide you with adequate information. You may need full tax records and more to track down hidden assets.
That’s why many high asset divorces require the assistance of an experienced forensic accountant. While the name sounds intimidating, these professionals can prove to be immensely helpful. They can often locate even the smallest diversion of funds by examining years of financial records with an eye on details.
There are many ways in which a person could hide assets while married. Some people just divert a portion of each paycheck or commission to a hidden account. Their spouse may never realize that the amount in their shared checking account only reflects a part of the income. In other cases, regular withdrawals of unremarkable amounts can help one person build up a substantial amount of cash. Other times, art or collectibles can serve as a way to hide wealth.
A forensic accountant will watch for all of these issues and much more. Once you know you have a full accounting of your assets and debts, you can trust in the courts to properly divide the assets from your marriage.