It’s not just the super-rich who hide assets in divorce proceedings
Hiding assets to prevent an ex from getting their fair share in a divorce is common among the super-rich, but it’s not just those with high net worth who are trying to find ways to keep their wealth from falling. be shared, warn the family lawyers, Osborne Law.
Partners have been known to transfer money to alternative bank accounts, purchase high value items, cash out insurance policies, donate assets to friends or family, or even open bank accounts on behalf of their own. children in order to reduce the marital pot to be shared between the divorcing couple.
The problem of hidden assets means that the use of private investigators is now the norm in splits where one or both parties are very wealthy.
Osbornes Law Family Law Partner Joanne wescott said, âThe richest and highest paid partner in a divorce, often always the husband, potentially has a lot to lose in a divorce and some will try to hide assets so that they are not taken into account when establishing the relationship. financial settlement between the two parties. .
âHigh net worth individuals often own multiple businesses, some of which are overseas. Their other half may have very little idea about the details of these assets and if they are held overseas, in places like the British Virgin Islands, it can be difficult to prove their existence.
âI have had cases where valuable jewelry has gone missing, horses have gone missing, and sports cars have been ‘sold’ to a family member. In one case, a simple Google search produced a link to commercial property owned by the husband that had not been disclosed.
âWhile those who use less elaborate methods of hiding wealth are easier to spot, suspicious partners are increasingly turning to private investigators to seek evidence of the existence of undisclosed assets. “
All assets held by a couple must be disclosed, as they may fall into the matrimonial pot in the event of divorce, unless a prenuptial agreement has been made before the marriage where both partners have agreed to close some assets, such as individual properties or inheritance. Even then, if the couple’s situation has changed a lot since the original agreement was drafted, they will have less influence in divorce courts.
For those who suspect their other half of trying to hide their assets, it is necessary to find solid evidence of their existence. This could mean going through bank statements to spot unusual or large money transfers and requesting information on where the money is going if the account is one you are not aware of.
Private investigators can be hired to follow up on potential leads, and forensic accountants can investigate accounting discrepancies and financial inaccuracies in business and personal finance.
Joanne says, âPeople usually have the feeling that their future ex is hiding something, but proving it can be difficult, especially when looking at assets abroad. A judge will need evidence, either from the asset itself or that not everything has been disclosed – something he will take into account even if the assets cannot be found.
Once a divorce settlement has been reached, it is very difficult to go back and have it reopened through the courts, so it is important to explore all possible avenues before the settlement.
Joanne adds, âFor those who marry a much richer partner, I would recommend familiarizing yourself with family finances whenever possible, asking questions, making sure you understand where the assets are held and trying to get this. that you can hold in common. Everyone needs a fight fund, so make sure you have enough, especially if you think a split can be considered. “