Hiding assets in divorce

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2021 | Family Law

In Illinois or any other state, divorce is a legal process with rules about dividing assets. If either party tries to hide financial assets or lie about their income, debts, expenses and so on, there are severe consequences. It is common for one spouse to try to keep more for themselves by hiding assets, but this is a bad idea.

Why spouses hide assets

In a divorce, the court must decide which assets are marital property, which means they are shared and were acquired during the marriage. Marital property is eligible to be divided between the spouses.

This is where the incentive to hide assets comes from: The hidden assets won’t be divided if they can’t be found by the court. This is illegal, and it comes with significant consequences.

Potential consequences

Judges have the ability to levy a variety of penalties and consequences for a party caught trying to conceal assets. The base-level might entail fines or attorney’s fees, which can be substantial. The judge can also allocate the hidden asset entirely to the other spouse. The judge has subjective and significant power to decide what happens based on the severity of the choice to hide assets.

The risks of hiding assets are great because the penalties are severe as well as hard to predict. They can even include jail time. Judges tend to not be sympathetic to spouses who try to hide assets in divorce because it entails lying on paperwork as well as in court. The costs can wind up exceeding the value of the hidden asset and lead to a less favorable asset split.