f1b8b678-e686-4e75-baf6-ab2ae45eeb22When going through a divorce in Illinois, one of the most complicated aspects of the process comes when a couple must divide their property. State law requires that all marital property be divided equitably, leaving each spouse with a fair share of the couple’s assets. However, some spouses have property that the other does not know about, or that they do not want divided by the courts. In these cases, one spouse may be left without access to large amounts of money, real property or other valuables that he or she has property rights to. Fortunately, there are ways to discover if a spouse has hidden assets, and to locate those items.

1. Obtain access to bank accounts

In many marriages, one spouse takes over control of paying bills and dealing with financial matters. While this may be convenient for some couples, it also leads to one spouse having full access to all bank accounts. Divorcing spouses should obtain passwords and information for all accounts in order to determine if the other spouse is hiding property in a fairly obvious location.

2. Take time to read documents

Spouses who are hiding assets often require the signature of the other spouse for documents such as tax returns or deeds. In order to keep assets hidden, the spouse needs the other to remain in the dark. Instead of signing a document without reading it through, perhaps because the spouse is acting pushy to complete the signing process, can lead to missed information about possible property.

3. Ask for financial information

It is important for both spouses to be aware of all financial information during the property division process. Spouses who suspect that their soon-to-be-ex is hiding property should ask for all financial documentation. It may not be possible to obtain this information without legal assistance, but some divorcing spouses may give it up when they feel the pressure.

4. Conduct a public records search

Any property that has not been disclosed may be discovered with a simple public records search. Looking under a spouse’s name or alias may turn up real property that was previously unknown to the other spouse.

5. Utilize the legal system

The divorce discovery process can provide a few methods of obtaining financial information with the help of the courts. An attorney can demand that a spouse produce financial information or answer written questions called “interrogatories.” If necessary, a spouse can even be ordered to provide testimony to compel compliance. If a spouse chooses to disobey a court order, the courts can impose monetary fines or other sanctions.