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You can run but you can't hide: Financial Proceedings upon Divorce
Sometimes, you come across a spouse that thinks that he can pull the wool over the Judge’s eyes by deflating and/or trying to hide their true financial position in order to defeat the other party’s potential financial claims. However, rest assured, if you have solicitors who know what they are doing, an experienced barrister and a well-seasoned Judge, your spouse may have to think again.
A party may be tempted to “weaken” their financial position before the Court so that when a Final Order is made their own hidden wealth is preserved. However, this did not go to plan in the recent case of R v A. In this case the parties were married for 25 years, the Husband was a successful property developer and the parties enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle. Conveniently, the Husband’s business began to drastically fail right around the same time the Wife issued financial remedy proceedings. Those who practice in family law are unlikely to deem the timing as coincidental – perhaps tactically but not coincidental. It was alleged by the Husband that his business liabilities far exceeded his assets. However, it came to light that the Husband had fabricated loans that he owed to offshore companies. Throughout the proceedings the Husband did not fully comply with the court directions to provide financial disclosure and he was not found to be an honest witness during cross-examination. His deceptive and somewhat cunning plan failed miserably as the Wife walked away with a Final Order that largely reflected what she wanted.
During Financial Court proceedings both parties have a duty to provide full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances. Breach of this duty could lead to penalties such as fines or even imprisonment. If you would rather run away from the proceedings altogether then go to the extremes of trying to hide your wealth, be warned this plan could quite easily back fire.
If a spouse does not co-operate in the Court proceedings, Final Orders may still be made in their absence. Moreover, those Orders are likely to be in the other spouse’s favour. It is also highly likely that the fleeing spouse will be ordered to be pay the other spouse’s legal fees which begs the question, you may be able to run and try to hide (your assets) but would you want to take the risk?