It is normal for spouses to resent each other during a divorce, as the process can bring up a lot of negative emotions. Both parties in a divorce must disclose all their assets, but a resentful spouse may choose to keep a few assets or items to themselves. However, hiding property is illegal and can result in harsh and costly penalties.
How the court divides assets
Illinois requires both spouses in a divorce to fully disclose their assets to each other using a financial affidavit. During discovery, either party can raise questions or request evidence of assets.
The court will then distribute the divorcing couple’s marital property equitably, which does not always mean equally. Instead, the court will consider many factors when dividing assets, such as what each spouse contributed to the marriage, the length of the marriage, and their economic circumstances.
Hiding assets is a crime
Both spouses should make every effort to be truthful on the financial affidavit, which they must sign under penalty of perjury. Lying in a deposition counts as perjury, a serious offense punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and five years in prison.
In addition, the court may find the violating spouse to be in contempt of court for deliberately disobeying a court order and trying to influence the proceeding. Those found in contempt may face up to 190 days in jail and pay a fine of up to $500. It is also possible that the court will order the spouse to turn over all or a significant portion of the undisclosed assets to the other. The penalties and the possibility of losing those assets are not worth the risk.
A spouse may hide their possessions in many ways, such as setting up an account under their child’s name, paying off unknown debts, or creating trusts. Before signing a divorce settlement, looking for any signs of financial manipulation is essential. Moreover, working with a divorce attorney can provide access to various legal instruments that may help uncover hidden assets.