During a divorce, there are many ways you could find assets your spouse might be hiding. All methods fall into a few categories to investigate either independently – or get the court involved. Your divorce may have you following a variety of strategies. Please keep in mind, this is only a general discussion, not specific legal advice.
Gathering Evidence Independently
You should start as soon as possible when you are looking for assets independent of a court order. If you do not know exactly what to look for, it may be wise to hire a lawyer to advise you on what you will need for your case. If you do know, here are some of the places you might want to look:
- File cabinets
- Safes in your home
- Safe-deposit boxes
Additionally, check your financial records online. For example, you could look for line items in credit card or bank statements, such as balance transfers or other transactions involving unknown accounts. Credit card statements with unidentifiable purchases, professional fees and other types of payments may also indicate various types of hidden assets.
You may also have access to your joint tax returns. Like credit card charges, certain reported sources of income or expenses can provide a variety of hints that direct you towards hidden assets. This may include real estate, securities, business interests or cash – so make sure to check the entire return.
Asking For the Court’s Authority
Individual investigation could be a good option if you already have access to the family’s financial documents, or if your spouse is fully cooperating. If not, you would probably want to take full advantage of all the tools available in the discovery process, which is the investigative part of your divorce.
Discovery can help find hidden assets by requiring your spouse to submit documents and fill out forms. It consists of a variety of procedures and court orders, which you officially request information. Should your spouse lie or refuse to answer these notices, there could be serious consequences
Keeping Up With Deadlines
Based on your circumstances, your schedule for discovery might vary, but it would probably be best to start gathering documents early to comply with deadlines. For example, if you are the filing party, Cook County Local Rule 13.3.1(a) orders you to submit a completed affidavit of finances within 30 days after you serve your spouse the official divorce petition.
During discovery and during your investigations, you may begin to suspect your spouse is not sharing the entire picture of his/her wealth. As a tax attorney and a divorce lawyer, I have seen a variety of creative hiding places and discovered some surprising assets. Finding these small clues requires attention to detail and a diligent pursuit of the truth. Please call me at (312) 621-5234 to schedule a time for us to look over your case.