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How to discover the presence of hidden assets

As an equitable distribution state, Illinois law dictates that joint assets be divided based on the financial condition of each spouse at the time of a divorce. In some cases, an individual may try to hide, obscure or transfer assets in an effort to avoid losing them in a final settlement. Let’s take a look at some of the strategies that may help someone discover the presence of hidden property.

Obtain copies of recent tax returns

Tax returns may contain evidence of gambling winnings, a stock portfolio or other assets that you didn’t know that your spouse possessed. It may also show evidence that your partner’s business is more profitable than he or she has claimed it was. In some cases, a tax return may show the presence of forgiven credit card, mortgage or other types of debt. If your name is on any of the secret loans, you may be liable for paying a portion of those balances.

Review bank statements

If you notice unusual withdrawals from a joint bank account, it could be a sign that your spouse is using marital funds for unethical purposes. In most cases, the fact that your partner is cheating on you won’t have a significant impact on a final divorce settlement. However, if he or she used joint money to fund an affair, you may be entitled to restitution.

Does your spouse have a retirement account or pension?

Generally speaking, an IRA, 401(k) or pension can be subject to division in a divorce settlement even if your name does not appear on the account. In some cases, you won’t be entitled to receive a payout until several weeks, months or years after your divorce is finalized.

A lawyer may help you find assets that your spouse is trying to hide from you. This may make it easier to negotiate a divorce settlement that is truly equitable based on your age, ability to work and other factors that may be relevant in your case.