One Man’s Extreme Marital Asset Concealment, and Why It Was a Bad Idea

A Colorado man, eager to prevent his wife from receiving any funds in their upcoming divorce, went to a rarely, if ever, heard of extreme. The Colorado Springs Gazette recently reported that Earl Ray Jones allegedly converted funds belonging to him and his wife into gold, then threw it all into the trash. The funds, which the Gazette confirms Jones did convert into gold, were in excess of $500,000. While no one saw Jones throw the gold bars and coins, likely weighing around 22 pounds, into the motel dumpster as he claims, the money is nowhere to be found. No garbage collectors reported the money found, nor has it been recovered from the trash dump.

marital asset division imageWhile this is an extreme example of a man concealing marital assets, actively hiding or spending money or disposing of marital property can result in serious problems. In Illinois, it can result in an unequal distribution of marital property and possibly jail time.

From the Beginning: Concealing Assets in the Initial Report

Both parties to a divorce must give a true and accurate report of their assets. This includes marital property, which is, broadly speaking, property that the married couple has acquired during the life of the marriage. In reporting the assets contained in the marital property, both spouses make a sworn statement to the court that the report is accurate. If a spouse misrepresents the amount of property in that report, that spouse is guilty of perjury. Perjury is a Class 3 felony in Illinois, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Dissipation of Marital Property

If a spouse reduces the value of the marital property, either intentionally or negligently, causing that value to not be distributable in the divorce, that spouse has committed dissipation. Dissipation can be the spending of money belonging to the marriage, selling property at below market value, allowing property to fall into disrepair, or any number of other common acts.

If the judge finds that dissipation has occurred, he or she must take that into consideration when distributing the marital property between spouses. Judges have intentionally distributed the property disproportionately in favor of the innocent spouse. In some cases, the distribution to the innocent spouse will exceed the funds in the marital property, forcing the dissipating spouse to make up the difference from his or her own non-marital property.

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney

An experienced divorce attorney knows the common ways spouses dissipate their assets. Often times, the dissipated value of the property can be restored. If you are seeking a divorce and want to protect yourself, your family, and your property, you should not do it alone. Contact a DuPage County family lawyer today.

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