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How Do You Find Hidden Assets in a Divorce?Negotiating the division of property in a divorce begins with identifying the properties that you and your spouse own. Marital properties are the ones that you will equitably divide between each other. Non-marital or separate properties belong to only one of you, though knowing their value is relevant when deciding on financial matters in your divorce. You and your divorce attorney will at times need to cooperate with your spouse to obtain records on your marital and separate assets. However, spouses sometimes hide valuable assets during divorce so that they do not have to share them or to make it appear that they have fewer financial resources. Hidden assets can skew the financial balance of your divorce agreement, and you need to work with your attorney if you believe that your spouse may have hidden assets.

What Are You Looking For?

Hidden assets can be secret financial accounts or luxury items that your spouse is holding in a place that you are not aware of. A spouse can more easily hide assets when they own a business or are the only one who manages their marital finances. If you are unsure whether your spouse has hidden assets, you can start by obtaining copies of their income tax returns or loan applications. In those documents, you are looking for:

  • Unidentified assets
  • Unexplained transactions
  • Discrepancies between the income they told you and the income they reported

If your attorney finds suspicious information, they may trace it to a separate bank account or discover that the assets were temporarily transferred to another person.

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Disagreeing on Whether to Sell Your House During DivorceMany couples going through a divorce will agree to sell their marital home rather than deciding on which one of them will keep it. The size and cost of the house may be impractical for one person, and including the house in the division of property can make it more difficult to equitably divide the properties. By selling the house, the divorcees can more easily divide the money that they receive from the sale. However, what can you do if your spouse will not agree to sell your house? You may have legal remedies that will allow you to sell your home, depending on whether your spouse is being unreasonable in obstructing the sale.

Reasoning

Before trying to force the sale of your marital home, you should consider why your spouse is objecting to the sale. They may have a good reason for not wanting to sell the house or wanting to wait before moving forward with the sale:

  • They may want to settle other financial issues related to the divorce so they will know whether they can still afford the marital home.
  • They may be trying to avoid uprooting your children during the school year.
  • They may have a personal connection to the house if it belonged to a relative.
  • They may believe that you need to make renovations to the home before selling it.
  • They may believe that the housing market will become more favorable if you wait.

Your spouse may also try to prevent the sale for impractical reasons, such as wanting to delay having to move out or being spiteful towards you.

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Four Types of Personal Documents You Need for Your DivorceYou and your divorce attorney will spend much of the process going over your finances to determine how you will divide them with your spouse. Your attorney needs official documentation to have accurate financial information and know if your spouse is telling the truth during negotiations. While your attorney is skilled at finding these documents, you can save yourself time and legal expense by providing them yourself. You can anticipate that your attorney will need several documents during your initial meetings about your divorce:

  1. Proof of Income: How much money you and your spouse make will determine the division of child support and whether spousal maintenance will be awarded. Copies of your and your spouse’s recent check stubs will show your regular pay and how much money you have earned this year. Recent income tax returns will give a larger picture for the last several years. You may need other financial records if you or your spouse are self-employed, such as check registers and bank statements.
  2. Financial Statements: Speaking of bank statements, you will need statements showing the current balances of financial accounts, both shared and individual. You will divide the money from your joint checking and savings accounts, as well as any joint investments, such as mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. Individual investments, such as retirement accounts, can be subject to division if they were accrued during your marriage. It is also wise to know your spouse’s non-marital financial assets, which are part of their total worth.
  3. Property Records: You should have the contracts for any major properties you purchased during your marriage, such as the deed to your home and the titles of your vehicles. You should also present any statements related to loan payments on these properties, such as your mortgage. These records will help your attorney determine the actual value of these properties and whether one of you has a stronger claim to a property.
  4. Debt Statements: Spouses divide their debts during their divorce, just as they divide their assets. Besides the previously mentioned property loan statements, you should present statements for any other debts, such as credit cards, medical bills, or bank loans.

Contact a McHenry County Divorce Lawyer

Providing all of these documents will give your attorney a head start in preparing for your divorce. At Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, we know that the search for financial information does not stop there. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce attorney will thoroughly search for any hidden or overlooked assets from your marriage. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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A Prenuptial Agreement Can Protect Your Business During DivorceBusiness owners must prioritize securing their business and its assets during a divorce. In most cases, a business is a marital property that is included during the division of property. Business owners are unlikely to split ownership with a divorcing spouse who did not own or help run the business during their marriage. However, the two sides may dispute the value of the business and how much the other spouse should receive to offset that value. As a business owner, you can plan ahead to protect your business during a potential divorce by including it in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Why Is Your Business a Marital Property?

Spouses normally differentiate between marital and nonmarital properties based on whether one of them purchased the property before their marriage. However, a business predating a marriage is not enough evidence to make it a nonmarital property:

  • You may have invested marital money into your business; 
  • Your business may be the primary source of income in your marriage; and
  • Your spouse may have sacrificed part of his or her career to allow you to focus on your business.

Your spouse can claim that the amount that your business increased in value during your marriage is marital property.

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Divorcees Must Modify Deed, Mortgage for Marital HomeYou and your spouse will decide which of you will retain ownership of your marital home after your divorce. However, the division of property in a divorce agreement is not enough to completely transfer ownership of the home to one person. As long as both of your names are on the deed and mortgage, you both will have some control over and responsibility for the home. The most efficient way to settle the issue is to transfer the deed and modify the mortgage while your divorce is still ongoing.

Potential Problems

Your divorce agreement states your intention for one of you to occupy and control your marital home after your divorce. It does not automatically change your deed or mortgage. Failing to update these documents may not have immediate consequences but will eventually cause complications:

  • One of you cannot sell the home without the other’s approval if the deed still says that you both own the home;
  • The person who no longer lives in the home could be liable for property tax and mortgage payments if the occupant does not pay them; and
  • If the occupant files for bankruptcy, the mortgage lender can pressure the other person on the mortgage to pay the remainder.

It is easier to settle these issues between each other now than returning to court years later when you are having problems.

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