While it is illegal to conceal funds that are part of the marital estate in divorce, many spouses in Illinois wish they had more control over the joint finances when the time comes to separate. Even if divorce mediation settles the financial issues for the couple, both parties may nevertheless wonder if having access to their own funds would have made a difference in their separation and divorce process. In many cases, one partner may be completely unaware of how much the other earns and have little or no access to funds when he or she decides to leave the marriage.
By setting up a "secret" fund, however, one spouse can have immediate access to cash in the event that he or she must leave the marital home, pay a family law attorney or pay for living expenses for several months while a mediation agreement is reached. While it is possible for him or her to petition the court for these expenses to be paid, it may be more feasible to have a sum of cash available immediately for these costs.
It is important, however, to understand that this separate fund is not to remain a secret from the court when you file for divorce. If you attempt to hide assets in a divorce process, you could find yourself facing criminal charges. The fund is simply to allow you some money that only you have control over prior to as well as in the event of divorce.
If you have a prenuptial agreement, your spouse may not be entitled to any of these funds; however, if there is no prenup, it is likely that your secret fund will become part of the marital estate when the time comes to settle or try your divorce case. A family law attorney may work with you to find a mediator for your divorce case so that you can settle your financial issues.
Source: Forbes, "Pros and cons of keeping a secret fund in case you divorce," Jeff Landers, Feb. 14, 2013