Do you suspect your ex is hiding assets from you in your divorce proceedings? If your ex is hiding assets there is a real risk you won’t achieve a fair financial settlement. If you suspect your ex is hiding assets there is also a strong possibility that you won’t be able to reach an agreed financial settlement because of your suspicions. That’s why if you think your ex is hiding assets in divorce proceedings it is best to get expert family law advice on your options.
Is my ex hiding assets in divorce proceedings?
Divorce solicitors will tell you that a husband and wife are under a duty to provide full and frank financial disclosure of their assets when negotiating a financial settlement. That’s the case whether you are negotiating through:
- Direct discussions
- Solicitor negotiations
- Family mediation
- Family arbitration
- Financial Court proceedings
If things are amicable, or your finances are straight forward, you may not want to see reams of paperwork going back years but every family situation is different. You probably know if your ex has hidden stuff from you throughout your marriage or you may suspect that they started to do so when they met someone else or when the marriage got into difficulties and the relationship started to drift apart.
If your ex is very keen to reach a financial settlement without providing any paperwork and wants to get an agreed clean break Financial Court Order as soon as possible this may raise a red flag for you or your divorce solicitor as you need some minimum paperwork to check things out.
If you feel that you are being pressurised into accepting no or very limited financial disclosure documents, and into accepting your ex’s word for everything, talk to a financial settlement solicitor before agreeing to a division of assets. That’s because whilst your ex might be totally honest and just wanting to ‘cut to the chase’ and get an agreement, you are entitled to see supporting paperwork. It’s important to do so as any financial settlement you reach by agreement can’t easily and quickly be unravelled if it turns out that you were right to have your suspicions about your ex hiding assets from you.
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Why is my ex hiding assets?
There are many reasons why an ex may try to hide assets. Divorce solicitors come across these common excuses:
- It is inherited money
- It is savings from my income
- The new house is owned by my new partner so it isn’t really my asset even though the deposit came from me
- There is no need to get a business or pension or other asset valued as you can take my word for the value
- Money was owed to a family member and was not transferred to them to hide assets
- Cash that was put into additional bank accounts was forgotten
- Property owned abroad or owned before marriage doesn’t count towards the financial settlement so wasn’t disclosed as it isn’t relevant ( in the ex’s opinion)
These are all excuses and should not be used as a reason to not provide full and frank financial disclosure. Sometimes an ex will try to hide money that might not be relevant to the financial settlement but you will both spend time and money arguing over the financial disclosure. However, if the asset had been disclosed at the outset your financial settlement solicitor could have advised you about its overall relevance to the financial settlement.
For example, a pension accrued before a short marriage with a cash equivalent transfer value of £10,000 may not be of significance and your ex is wasting their time and money by trying to hide an asset that may be of limited relevance because of the duration of your marriage or your ages. However, by failing to disclose the pension, you and the Court may be far more sceptical about how honest their other financial disclosure is, such as, the extent of your ex’s declared self-employed income or the reason they have transferred money to a sibling or new partner.
What can you do about an ex hiding assets?
If you are separated or getting divorced and you believe your ex is hiding assets you may need urgent financial settlement and injunction representation. That’s because if your ex is hiding assets with the intention of reducing your financial settlement you may need an injunction order to stop them. Examples of when you may require a financial injunction include:
- Your ex is transferring money or property to a third party
- Your ex is putting their pension in payment and taking the maximum tax free cash sum to put the money out of your reach
- Your ex is syphoning money out of the family business by paying a family member for false invoices with a view to making sure the family business has a lower value placed on it as profits will be down
- Your ex is buying property overseas or transferring assets abroad
- Your ex is moving money out of joint bank accounts and putting it into cryptocurrency
An injunction is a temporary measure to stop your ex from hiding or disposing of assets. It is best to consider a section 37 injunction application rather than assume that in financial settlement Court proceedings a new partner, parent or sibling can be joined into the financial application to try to unravel the transfer of assets. Whilst that is possible it is normally best to stop the transfer taking place in the first place by securing a freezing injunction.
If you have not already done so, a divorce solicitor will also advise you to start financial Court proceedings for a Financial Court Order. Within the financial settlement application, the Court can make financial disclosure orders that your ex will need to comply with.
If your ex does not comply with the financial disclosure orders then you can ask the Court to enforce the disclosure orders against your ex or ask the Court to draw inferences. For example, if the Court ordered disclosure of historical bank statements to reveal what happened to the £100,000 after the sale of a buy to let property and your ex flouts the disclosure order you can ask the Court to draw inferences as to why and ask the Court to add back in the £100,000 so you get a greater share of the other family assets.
Financial proceedings and ex hiding assets
If you have started financial proceedings and you are not satisfied with your ex’s Form E financial disclosure then a specialist family solicitor can review the financial disclosure with you and draw up a list of additional questions and request for extra non-standard paperwork . For example, if your ex is the director and shareholder in a family business and you suspect they have been syphoning money off to their new partner by creative accounting or use of the director loan account, you can ask for a forensic accountant to value the business and look at your accounting concerns as well as asking for an order that your ex disclose statements for their DLA.
Alternatively, you can ask the Court to make financial disclosure orders to help you investigate if:
- Your ex is self-employed and the family lifestyle does not match their declared earnings
- Your ex has withdrawn significant sums from a business or personal account and that is not their usual pattern of spending
- Your ex previously mentioned an asset that they said would be a rainy day asset or pension but there is no mention of the asset in their financial disclosure
There are lots of ways a tenacious divorce solicitor can ‘get to the bottom’ of financial disclosure, with the assistance of your background information and knowledge of your ex, combined with seeking the right injunction, financial disclosure orders and valuations.