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West Chicago division of marital assets lawyerNo couple expects their marriage will end in divorce when they first get married. The beginning of a marriage is a typically a time of peak trust and solidarity, with spouses willingly assuming the roles believed to contribute to a happy and successful union, “Until death do us part.” However, it is important for both spouses to understand their rights, especially when it comes to ownership of the assets they have acquired over the course of their marriage.

Even in a society that is gradually becoming less gendered in matters of economic opportunity, it is still common for one spouse to assume the role of income earner, and the other the role of stay-at-home parent. In such an arrangement, a knowledge gap may come to exist with regard to the marriage’s income, assets, liabilities, investments, and other financial information, with the income-earning spouse handling most financial matters and the stay-at-home parent focused on crucial parenting responsibilities, such as the education, healthcare, nutrition, and transport of the children. 

When the unthinkable happens and the marriage ends divorce, the stay-at-home parent must suddenly close this financial knowledge gap, prepare for life as both a parent and manager of finances, and ensure that he or she receives, in addition to all appropriate child support and spousal maintenance, an equitable portion of the marriage’s assets. When there exists reason to suspect that the income earning spouse is not cooperating in the equitable division required under state law, it is necessary to utilize the legal process of income discovery.

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Wheaton divorce lawyer hidden assets discoveryPlanning for life after divorce is tough enough, even when there are no child custody and support matters to address, and both spouses will continue on in their careers without interruption after the marriage’s dissolution. Divorce takes an emotional toll even in circumstances where the decision is mutual and there is no animosity. Many divorces, however, are rife with tension and disagreement over financial issues, including the division of marital assets, spousal support, and, when there are children involved, child support. 

In obtaining the fair and equitable distribution of assets required by Illinois law, as well as in securing the spousal and child support you need and deserve, the legal process of discovery is instrumental in uncovering income or assets which a spouse may intend to hide from the asset division process.

Illinois Divorce Law Utilizes a Principle of Equitable Distribution

When divorce occurs in Illinois, the state utilizes a principle of “equitable distribution” with regard to a marriage’s income and assets. An equitable distribution is not necessarily an equal division, but is defined broadly as the division of property in “just proportions.” 

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Winfield divorce discovery lawyerWhen parents divorce, the dissolution of the marriage must be formalized in a court of law, and decisions must be made regarding the allocation of parental responsibility, child support, and, when appropriate, spousal support. When, in a contested divorce, spouses cannot agree on child and spousal support, a full and fair financial accounting of income and assets is absolutely essential. In obtaining such an accounting, Illinois law provides spouses and their attorneys with processes which allow them to discover all income and assets relevant in establishing child and spousal support orders.

“Discovery” is the Legal Process Used to Determine Assets and Income

It is not uncommon, when a marriage is in disrepair and it becomes apparent that divorce is on the horizon, for one spouse to attempt to hide assets and other sources of income with the intention of lowering their anticipated child and spousal support obligations. Such efforts, however, not only stand in contradiction to the principle of equitable division of marital property mandated by Illinois law, but a spouse’s attempts to avoid paying their fair share of financial support can lead to a variety of legal consequences, including being held in contempt of court. 

When one spouse attempts to hide income or assets, the other spouse, with the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney, may compel them to disclose complete and accurate financial information. In this formal process, the legal tool of “discovery” is central. Specific forms of discovery include depositions (oral testimony), interrogatories (written answers), requests for documents, and court ordered inspections of financial records. The reason why the word “compel” is appropriate with regard to the discovery process is because discovery is conducted under penalty of perjury (lying under oath), which can result in grave legal consequences.

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