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Can you hide assets before divorce?

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In a divorce, the division of assets is often one of the most fraught issues the separating couples must deal with. Securing a fair split of your combined assets can be critical to your future financial security, so it is important that all assets are properly considered.

People will sometimes attempt to hide assets before a divorce to avoid their inclusion in a settlement. This is illegal as there is a requirement for both parties to make a “full and proper” disclosure of their assets so that they can be considered.

If you are concerned that your spouse is hiding assets or you have particular assets you want to protect, you do have options, so it is important to be informed and to access the right legal advice.

In this blog, we discuss whether someone can hide assets before divorce, how they might attempt to do this, your rights with regard to viewing your spouse’s bank account, your options if you believe your spouse may be hiding money and legitimate ways you can protect your assets against the risk of divorce.

It should be noted that this blog is not intended as legal advice and is for educational purposes only. Should you wish to discuss your specific situation, our divorce and separation solicitors will be happy to answer any queries you may have.

For expert help with your divorce, please call one of our offices in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby, or simply fill out our enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Can someone hide assets before divorce?

As explained above, hiding assets during divorce is illegal. You and your spouse must both make full disclosures of your assets so they can be considered as part of a negotiated or court-ordered division of assets.

If you believe that certain assets should not be included in the division of finances (e.g. because the assets were acquired before your marriage) then you should discuss this with your solicitor. It may be possible to have these assets excluded but you should never attempt to hide them.

What happens if someone is found to be hiding assets during divorce?

If it is discovered that one party was hiding assets before divorce or during divorce proceedings, then any settlement that has been negotiated or ordered by a court can potentially be set aside by a court. The court can then decide a new division of assets taking into account those that were hidden.

A person found to have been hiding assets during divorce could also potentially be charged with perjury, which is a criminal offence that can, in the most serious cases, result in a prison sentence. They could also be required to pay the other party’s litigation costs.  What often happens is that they lose credibility with the Judge who is deciding the case which means the fnal order can be punitive towards them in terms of the division of the finances.

Is it illegal to hide money from your spouse?

It is not illegal to hide money from your spouse during the course of your marriage and there can sometimes be good reason for doing so (for example, setting aside money to help leave an abusive relationship). The key point is that you will still legally need to disclose these assets if you get divorced.

If you are considering hiding assets before divorce (e.g. so you can leave your spouse, then apply for a divorce) then you must seek expert legal advice to make sure you do not do so in a way that could have negative legal consequences.

Should I be able to see my spouse’s bank account?

During a divorce, you will be able to see details of your spouse’s bank account as part of the full and proper disclosure of financial information. Before divorce, there is no legal obligation for your spouse to let you see their bank accounts, but a refusal to do so might be considered suspicious. If you have concerns about this, a solicitor will be able to advise you, particularly with respect to any attempt to hide assets before divorce.

What to do when your spouse hides money from you?

If you believe your spouse is hiding money from you, then you should seek expert legal advice immediately. A specialist family lawyer can assist with options such as applying to the court for a Freezing Order, to prevent your spouse from moving or disposing of assets, as well as a court order requiring your spouse to disclose any relevant financial information.

If there is evidence of your spouse trying to hide money before your divorce, then you can have the court decide on the division of assets, making sure all of your spouse’s assets are included. As covered above, they could also face a charge of perjury and the requirement to contribute towards your legal costs.

Can you transfer money before divorce?

There may sometimes be legitimate reasons to transfer money before divorce, but you must make sure you do so in a transparent way and not as part of an attempt to hide money. For example, if you transfer some money from a joint account into your own personal account, you would still need to declare this money as part of your settlement proceedings.

If you are planning to transfer money before divorce, please speak to a legal expert to make sure you will not be doing so in a way that could cause you legal problems later.

What can you do to protect assets in divorce?

There are legitimate ways that you can protect specific assets against the possibility of divorce.

One option is to make a post-nuptial agreement or ‘post-nup’ with your spouse to agree on how your assets would be divided if you were to divorce in the future. While this is not legally binding, a court will normally take a properly prepared post-nup into account during a divorce. However, if the post-nup was only recently created, it is less likely to be considered by a court, so this is not something that can normally be used if you are already considering divorce.

If you are already planning to divorce, then one of the best ways to protect specific assets would be to negotiate a settlement with your spouse. This could, for example, allow you to keep the family home in exchange for agreeing to surrender your right to a share of your spouse’s pension. A court will not necessarily take your wishes into account when deciding the division of assets, so this type of negotiated settlement can be the best option.

Get expert divorce advice in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby

For expert help with concerns over your spouse hiding money or how to protect money from divorce, please get in touch with a member of our team. We can also assist with any other questions or concerns you may have in relation to divorce proceedings.

We have offices in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby working with clients across Coventry and Warwickshire, the West Midlands, Oxfordshire and nationwide.