What Can You Do if You Suspect Your Spouse Has Not Disclosed Assets Abroad?
The divorce process can be complicated and emotionally challenging, particularly if there is suspicion around whether both parties have been truthful about the full extent of their assets. We regularly help clients who suspect that their spouse has attempted to hide assets in anticipation of divorce. These suspicions can be painful, and they can make divorce proceedings even more complicated. But what can you do? In this post, we look at some of the options available to you if you suspect your spouse has hidden or plans to hide assets during the divorce process.
What is asset hiding in financial settlement and divorce?
During the divorce process, both parties are required to disclose all of their assets. This includes personal property, property held overseas, investments, savings and business interests – the process is referred to as ‘financial disclosure’. Financial disclosure is designed to ensure that any divorce settlement reached is reasonable and fair. However, where one party is not honest during financial disclosure and hides assets, the court will not have the opportunity to consider the hidden assets, and the final settlement is likely to be unfair.
What can I do if I suspect my spouse has hidden assets?
There are several options available to you if you suspect your spouse may not have been honest about the extent of their assets, even where these assets are held overseas.
Prevent your spouse from disposing of assets using a court order
If you suspect that your spouse is going to dispose of assets, we can assist you in making an application for an order under section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. If your application is successful, the order prevents your spouse from disposing of any assets they have not yet sold or otherwise passed on. Also, such an order can require your spouse to transfer back any assets they have already disposed of. This can be an extremely effective means of forcing your spouse to disclose assets and obtaining a fair divorce settlement. In order to apply for such an order, you must be able to demonstrate that the asset was disposed of to prevent you from receiving a fair financial settlement in the divorce.
Freezing orders in financial settlement and divorce
You can also apply to the court for a freezing order. A freezing order will prevent your spouse from disposing of or mismanaging any assets. A typical example of when a freezing order may be used in divorce is where one spouse spitefully attempts to spend as much money as possible, or to sell assets to prevent them from being considered as part of the financial settlement. A freezing order is a powerful tool as it can be made without the other party knowing. A freezing order can also prevent the disposal of assets abroad, which can provide much broader protection for international couples.
What assets can be frozen under a freezing order during divorce?
Most assets can fall under the remit of a freezing order, but typically in divorce and financial settlement cases, it will apply to bank accounts and property. However, it can also apply to assets not under the control of your spouse yet, for example, a financial award from a pending court case.
When will the court make a freezing order in a divorce case?
Certain conditions must be met for the court to grant your application for a freezing order. Generally, the court must be satisfied that the other party is about to dispose of or sell assets with the intention of depriving you of a fair financial settlement.
Taking action in the situation where you believe your spouse is hiding or disposing of assets can be complicated. We must advise that you do not attempt to find evidence or take action yourself and instead that you seek specialist legal advice from our experienced team. We have helped many spouses who suspect their spouse has not been honest during financial disclosure. Get in touch with us today.
Contact Our UK Divorce Solicitors based in Manchester, London and Birmingham
Our specialist international divorce lawyers will help you every step of the way during this difficult time. Our divorce team is experienced in divorce proceedings with an international element and financial settlements. To arrange an initial consultation about divorce, call our specialist Divorce Solicitors on 0330 107 0107 or request a call back.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.
Published by: Iwona Durlak
IMD Solicitors LLP