Ask a Divorce Attorney: Was it Hidden, or Overlooked?
If you are considering filing for divorce or have filed and are preparing to head to court, you should not ignore the potential for hidden assets. Hidden assets can actually take more than one form in the average divorce, and they can have an impact on the outcome of the asset division process.
Most people imagine that hidden assets are items or finances one spouse intentionally hides from the other and the courts. While this certainly does happen, this is not the only situation that can lead to hidden assets. You could simply overlook items of significant value while preparing your financial records for divorce. Understanding more about the asset division process in Illinois can help protect you from an unfair outcome to your divorce.
Illinois seeks equitable distribution of assets in divorces
Every state has its own approach to dividing marital assets and debts in a divorce through family law. In St. Clair County, Illinois, judges must always seek to find an equitable and fair resolution to the asset division process. While it is important to understand that equitable does not mean even, you can expect to have a relatively equally divided marital estate in most cases.
In order for the judge to make a fair decision about who gets what, the judge must have an accurate idea about the total value of assets and debts from your marriage. Hidden assets can have a profound impact on the overall fairness of your divorce. After all, if a judge doesn’t know about certain valuable possessions, purchases or accounts, he or she cannot ensure that those assets are fairly split between spouses.
Be on the lookout for any items of value from your marriage
With the exception of items you inherit and gifts, most everything you acquired during your marriage is subject to property division statutes. The same goes for your spouse. Whether or not you have an actual interest in a specific asset, if it was acquired during your marriage, you deserve either a share of the asset or an asset of comparable value. Locating and pricing hidden assets ensures a better and more fair outcome for everyone.
Working with professionals can help you track down valuable assets if your spouse is intentionally hiding them, but they may not know about other possessions. You should carefully review major purchases made by your spouse throughout your marriage. Make sure they are known during meetings with a divorce attorney, or throughout the divorce mediation process.
Does your spouse have a hobby or collection that costs a lot of money to maintain? While you may not have an interest in that hobby, the items purchased for said hobby during your marriage represent a use of marital assets. Properly valuing and claiming those assets can help ensure that you receive a fair amount of the marital estate.