The dangers of hiding or failing to disclose the true nature of assets on divorce

During divorce proceedings, it is of crucial importance that both parties declare the full and true nature of their assets. If assets have been concealed or incorrectly disclosed, it is difficult to visualise what a ‘fair settlement’ should look like – which could potentially lead to disputes further down the line should one party wish to challenge an ‘unfair settlement’.

The Courts also have far-reaching powers to ensure that there is full financial disclosure and that assets are preserved at the point at which divorce proceedings are commenced. In the event that one party attempts to hide their assets or unlawfully transfer them, the person doing so can be severely penalised.

A Court may order the offending party to pay the other side’s legal costs, or offer this person a far less favourable settlement. If an offending party seeks to dispose of assets – for example, by transferring the proceeds – it may be possible to prevent this or to recover the assets.

If it comes to attention at a later date that you or your spouse failed to correctly disclose the true nature of your assets, the Court is free to re-open the financial case and potentially make a different order entirely.

Alternatively, if you have reason to believe an ex-spouse has hidden their assets from you, you are fully entitled to challenge a settlement, subject to sufficient evidence.

This may apply for same-sex couples in civil partnerships as well as married heterosexual couples. In October 2015, the case of Roocroft v Ball saw an Appeals Court Judge rule that a woman who found that her ex-civil partner had hidden assets worth millions of pounds during the dissolution of their relationship was granted an ‘unfair settlement’.

In this case, the Court of Appeal agreed to reassess Ms Roocroft’s settlement – suggesting that, under such circumstances, civil partners effectively have the same rights as heterosexual spouses under Family Law.

Palmers Solicitors advise on all aspects of Family Law. For more information, please contact our South Woodham Ferrers team at enquiries@palmerslaw.co.uk