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Divorce Assets: Are people hiding assets using new tech?


People attempting to hide divorce assets in anticipation of a divorce is nothing new. While the majority of people are willing to fully disclosure their financial situation, there are some who would rather appear less wealthy than they are, so that the matrimonial assets don’t look quite as big when it comes to deciding how these assets should be fairly divided between themselves and their spouse.

In England and Wales, full disclosure of divorce assets is a vital part of the divorce process. Without full and frank disclosure at the beginning of the process, it would not be possible to come to a conclusion about what a fair division of the assets may look like.

 

Full and frank disclosure using a Form E

You may have heard your solicitor refer to a Form E.  We will look in detail below at what a Form E actually is? Normally, both spouses are required to complete this near the start of the divorce process.

 

This form is the document which is required by the courts if you make an application regarding financial matters as a result of divorce. However, many divorce solicitors will ask you to fill this in, even if you are not intending to involve the courts, as it ensures that each party is providing the same level of detail about their finances.

 

Questions on this form cover everything from assets to income and debt.

 

Cryptocurrencies: the new way of hiding divorce assets 

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, could potentially be used to keep assets hidden from a spouse.

 

As cryptocurrencies are, by their very nature, virtual, there are no real bank accounts to disclose to a spouse upon divorce. Cryptocurrencies are normally kept in a virtual wallet.

 

While the risks associated with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoins, haven’t been far from the headlines over the last year or so, the anonymity that these currencies allow may be attractive for those who are wanting to keep money hidden from a spouse during a divorce.

 

What can the courts do if someone is found to be hiding divorce assets?

If one party is found to have hidden divorce assets, then the court has the power to penalise them in a number of ways. A judge could, for example, order them to pay the other party’s legal costs. Alternatively, they could be given a less favourable settlement.

 

Moreover, if someone is found to have hidden assets at a later date (after the financial settlement has been agreed), any court order regarding the financial settlement that was made without the knowledge of these assets, could be overturned.

 

What can I do if I suspect my spouse is hiding assets?

If you suspect that your spouse isn’t being truthful about their assets, it is important to tell your solicitor.

 

A solicitor can request further information from your spouse and can apply to the courts for an order to force your spouse to disclose certain information, if necessary.

 

When a marriage comes to an end, as well as dealing with the personal stresses and strains that go hand in hand with the end of a relationship, it’s also necessary to manage the financial side of a divorce.

 

A key element of this process is full and frank financial disclosure. Without each party fully disclosing their financial situations, it would be almost impossible to divide the finances in a fair way.

 

Moreover, if full disclosure does not take place, this could result in a financial settlement being reopened at a later date.

divorce assets

 

What is a Form E?

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement and you ask a judge to decide your financial settlement for you, you will each be required to complete what is known as a ‘Form E’, as part of the court process.

 

Even if you and your spouse intend on coming to an agreement between yourselves, a Form E can be a useful starting point for your discussions.

 

The Form E covers everything from details of any mortgages to your pensions and incomes. When filling this form in, it is important to provide as much information as possible, so an accurate picture can be built up of your financial situation.

 

Your solicitor may ask you to provide documents to go with your form E, including wage slips, bank statements and property valuations.

 

Reaching an agreement outside of court

If possible, it is usually recommended that divorcing couples reach an agreement regarding the financial settlement without going to court. This is because the court process can be both lengthy and costly.

 

Some couples are able to reach an agreement between themselves. Indeed, it is perfectly possible to decide on a financial settlement without advice from a solicitor.  However, it is highly recommended that legal advice is sought, so that you have a good idea of what may be considered a fair and reasonable division of your finances, in your situation.

 

Other couples may consider various methods to help them to reach an agreement, such as collaborative law (this involves four-way meetings between you, your spouse and your respective solicitors) or mediation.

 

If you do reach an agreement outside of court, it is usually recommended that a court order called a ‘consent order’ is obtained, so that your agreement can be made legally binding.

 

Asking a judge to decide your financial settlement

If you are unable to reach an agreement on your financial settlement, it may be necessary to ask the court to decide for you.

 

Here, a Form E is a vital part of the process.

 

Even if you do decide to go down this route, there will be plenty of opportunities to reach an agreement with your spouse before the final hearing takes place.

 

What can I do if I think my spouse is hiding divorce assets?

If you think that your spouse is not being completely honest about their financial situation, it is crucial that you tell your solicitor. The courts take this very seriously and could punish someone who is found to have hidden divorce assets by, for example, giving them a less favourable settlement.

 

How can our expert divorce solicitors help you?

Our expert divorce solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues:

 

Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email mail@austinkemp.co.uk.

 

Our expert divorce solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in our:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Sheffield Office: Pinfold Street, The Balance, Sheffield, S1 2GU

Manchester Office: King Street, Manchester, M2 4PD

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

London Office: 01 Nothumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5BW

Please contact us for more details. 

08th March 2019

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