Divorce can be tough, especially in situations where there is a lot conflict and anger between spouses. There are many issues you might be concerned about and your financial assets are likely near the top of the list. Not every spouse plays fair, unfortunately. Some might try to hide assets before or during the divorce to avoid having to divide them appropriately. However, there are ways to investigate the situation through the process of discovery.
Being the Out-Spouse
In many cases, one spouse tends to handle the bookkeeping during a marriage, while the other, often referred to as the “out-spouse”, plays little to no part in marital finances. Usually, the out-spouse does not have immediate access to or knowledge of necessary financial information, while the other spouse does, making it easy for him or her to withhold pertinent financial records. If you are the out-spouse, it is crucial to contact an attorney who has experience in asset search and investigation. He or she will know where to look at what questions to ask.
The Discovery Process
If your spouse is intentionally hiding assets to prevent you from securing your fair share, chances are he or she will not voluntarily disclose all financial information in the divorce, so you and your divorce attorney will have to go a more formal route to obtain information and documents. Through the discovery process, you will be able to:
- Request documents: Your attorney will ask your spouse to produce certain documents, including tax returns, financial statements, loan applications, and account records.
- Interrogatories or requests for admission: These discovery tools, which usually involve written questions, requires your spouse to either respond to them in writing, or admit to certain statements you believe are true.
- Inspection: You can ask to inspect property, such a safety deposit box or an extensive art collection.
- Testimony under oath: During an oral deposition, you, your spouse, and lawyers will appear before a court reporter. Your spouse will be sworn in and must answer your attorney’s questions truthfully.
For those dealing with an uncooperative or deceitful spouse, the discovery process is an effective way to get financial information since the court can compel him or her into compliance. If your spouse refuses to produce the requested documents, you can ask the judge on your case to order him or her to do so. It is possible your spouse might further defy this request and disobey the judge’s order, in which case the court would punish him or her by imposing a sanction. This sanction might include a monetary fine or a judgment against the uncooperative spouse regarding the issue in question.
Depositions are particularly effective since it requires a spouse to provide testimony under oath. If your spouse were to lie under oath, he or she could be charged with perjury, which is often the right amount of pressure to coax the truth out on matters of hidden assets. Timing is everything though, so make sure you are able to obtain financial records before seeking to depose your spouse, so the questions can be based on records and information that has already been thoroughly examined.
Get Assistance with the Asset Distribution Process
Asset distribution is a touchy subject and when one spouse chooses to withhold information in an attempt to hide assets, it can become even more contentious and problematic. If you are in need of representation to assist you with the property division process, contact a skilled Illinois family attorney as soon as possible. At Wakenight & Associates, P.C., our attorneys are well-versed in our state’s divorce laws and will utilize our knowledge and experience to pursue the best possible outcome for your case and ensure you receive a distribution plan that is fair and beneficial to your entire family.
Important assets in a divorce can include cars or automobiles, homes and apartments, real estate, investments, financial assets, retirement accounts and saving accounts, intellectual property, insurance policies, and pets. Divorce is already a highly emotional and complicated process, so when one spouse is trying to prevent the other from obtaining a fair share of the marital assets, the situation can become even more difficult. Protect what is yours and contact us to have a legal advocate in your corner who will help you navigate your divorce with the least amount of stress possible.
Contact us today at (888) 351-2843 for a free consultation with one of the skilled Illinois divorce lawyers at Wakenight & Associates, P.C.