When you or your spouse makes a request for spousal maintenance, it is in both of your best interests to be upfront about your finances. However, spouses who are afraid of paying spousal maintenance may try to hide assets and/or income to make it look like they cannot afford a high amount. Additionally, spouses who wish to receive spousal maintenance may hide assets and/or income to make it appear that a greater need for maintenance exists. These deceptive tactics can be uncovered during the divorce.
Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law
In Illinois, a judge must first decide whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. There are a number of factors the judge will look at established in 750 ILCS 5/504, including the income and property of each party. If the judge determines support is appropriate, the next step is to define the amount and duration. If you and your spouse have a combined income of $250,000.00 or less, then Illinois law outlines the guideline amount to be paid. However, if your combined incomes are greater than $250,000.00, then the judge has discretion in the amount and duration.
Proving Hidden Income and Assets
If you believe your spouse is hiding income or assets to effect the outcome of a request for spousal support, consider the following steps:
- Review social media content: Due to the rise in social media accounts and putting much of our lives online, spouses have been known to let slip that they have more money than they say. Lavish purchases like new vehicles and vacations can hint at a hidden source of income or savings. However, it can also be a sign that the spouse is going into debt – so do not rely too heavily on social media evidence. Seek out more official documentation before coming forward with accusations of hidden assets.
- Gather your tax returns: If you were often left out of the financial process during your marriage, it is time to familiarize yourself with your filed tax returns. Reviewing your previous years’ tax returns with a financial professional can help you see income you did not realize existed. If you cannot obtain copies from home, then you can do so through the Internal Revenue Service or through your attorney.
- Utilize the discovery process during the divorce: You are unlikely to know for sure whether another person is hiding assets until you utilize the discovery process during divorce. During this time, your attorney can submit formal discovery requests or subpoena your spouse’s financial records, including bank accounts investment accounts, retirement and pension plans, life insurance policies and more. It may be possible to subpoena a bank for account and safe deposit box information. Your attorney can also take your spouse’s and other individuals’ testimony under oath through depositions.
- Hire a forensic accountant: Without a keen financial eye involved, it may be hard to detect hidden assets through tax returns and financial documents. If your tax returns and the documents you obtained through the discovery process show that there may be more income than you thought, or if a business is involved, you could hire a forensic accountant to dig deeper. These professionals understand common schemes people use to hide money or look like they are in more debt than they really are.
Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer Today
If you are ready to ask for a divorce and believe spousal maintenance may become an issue, contact the experienced divorce lawyers at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. at 630-961-0060 to schedule a free initial consultation.