What can I do if I think my spouse is hiding assets?
First, if a divorce case has to go to court there is a penalty for intentionally hiding assets, it is illegal. Each spouse has a duty to make a full and frank disclosure of their financial position, which includes the full extent of their assets.
If a spouse deliberately fails to disclose certain assets this can potentially be considered contempt of court and may mean a spouse faces a fine or even a term of imprisonment. The court also has additional powers to deal with assets that have been transferred in an attempt to reduce what is left in the “matrimonial pot”.
The court has the power to prevent an asset being moved or disposed of by a freezing order or if the transaction has already taken place by make an avoidance of disposition order. Alternatively, it can “addback” an equivalent amount to the party’s share of the assets during the divorce proceedings.
If an asset has been disposed of the spouse who disposed of the asset may need to show that it was not their intention to reduce the assets available for sharing on divorce.
If the asset was disposed of in good faith and for valuable consideration meaning an appropriate and fair value was paid, then an application cannot be made. In those circumstances, you would look at what happened to the money your spouse received.
So why do spouses hide assets? Sometimes it is because they do not think an asset should be shared or they do not think it is relevant to provide information about assets they may have owned before they got married.
The usual types of assets that people try to hide are;
· Bank accounts/savings
· Trust assets
· Future bonus payments they are going to get from an employer
· Business assets
The reality is that a spouse who tries to hide or dispose of assets often gets caught out. It is always better to provide full disclosure and then if you think that certain assets should not be included in any division on divorce this can be discussed.
For a settlement to be fair, both parties must be confident that there has been an honest approach to providing full disclosure. An agreement can only be recommended if both parties have provided full and complete disclosure of their assets. If it later transpires that this did not happen the court may be asked to cancel any previous court order that was made when the divorce was finalised.
At Family Mediation and Mentoring LLP we work with couples to help them provide all the financial disclosure that is required to ensure that we can then help them reach a fair agreement that can then be converted into a legally binding court order. This helps couples reach an amicable agreement, reduce their legal fees and stay out of court.
If you would like more information about how mediation can help you reach an agreement and stay out of court you may find that some of the information on our website is helpful – www.familymediationandmentoring.co.uk On our website you can also book a free call using our calendar booking system so that you can ask us any questions that you may have. We also offer an online Zoom appointment called a “Family law information meeting – FLIM” for couples who want to meet with us and ask about what things they should be considering so that they can then discuss and agree next steps together.
Our telephone number – 0800 206 2258
Our email – email@example.com