Dissipation of Assets
The marital estate (property and assets owned by the marriage) will be equitably split between the parties absent a pre-nuptial agreement. However, if one spouse spends marital assets for a non-marital purpose once the marriage has broken down, the marriage is entitled to reimbursement. Dissipation can take many forms: risky investments without the consent of the other spouse; securing and furnishing a new apartment; and the classic example of spending money on new relationships.
Often a spouse may not be forthcoming about an extra-marital relationship, which a private investigator can be used to prove. Once established, counsel would use discovery tools such as depositions and records subpoenas to ascertain the magnitude of the dissipation.
Discovery of Assets
A financial savvy party to a divorce may attempt to hide assets from a spouse. A private investigator may have tools at his disposal such as public records databases to determine whether a party has assets he or she is not disclosing. Further, practical investigation techniques such as surveillance may reveal business associates who can also be investigated, or locations of deposit boxes or asset cashes.
Termination of Spousal Maintenance
Following a divorce, one spouse may come away with an award of maintenance for any period of time, from a few years to a lifetime. However, under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”), maintenance terminates when one party cohabitates with another person on a continuing conjugal basis. Obviously, a spouse receiving maintenance has every incentive to keep the existence of a new relationship from the paying spouse. Moreover, ruses such as separate residences may not prevail in the face of evidence of a spouse and a new girlfriend or boyfriend spending every night together. Private investigators often testify to a spouse spending every night in a given week together with his or her partner; such evidence can support an order terminating maintenance.