Uncovering hidden assets in your divorce

Diana Bastow
squirrel hiding assets

Table of Contents

Hiding Assets During a Divorce

As part of your divorce, you and your ex will have to agree on how to divide any money, property, investments and pensions that you own. Most couples are able to reach an agreement outside of court by sitting down together and working things out. This process works well when both parties are open and honest when disclosing their financial interests.

Sometimes, however, one party may try to hide assets from their ex so they are not split in the divorce. Senior divorce solicitor in London, Diana Bastow, discusses what you should do if you believe your spouse to be hiding assets in your divorce. 

This is more common than you might think. Unsurprisingly, the courts take a really dim view of such deception since it prevents a fair settlement from being reached.

But how do you know if your ex is hiding assets? And more importantly, what can you do about it if they are? Keep reading for answers to these questions and more.

Failure to disclose financial information in divorce

How will I know if my ex is hiding assets?

The first step is to look at the financial disclosure ‘Form E.’ This is a document both you and your ex will be asked to fill out, giving as much information as possible regarding bank accounts, savings, investments, pensions, mortgages, wages, and so on. At 28 pages long, this document can be daunting to fill out. At the same time, an experienced solicitor will know how to read between the lines of the financial disclosures and can alert you if something doesn’t add up. 

Other red flags to watch out for include:

  • Your ex stops receiving mail, which could indicate that important documents are being sent to a different address 
  • Passwords to accounts or investments are suddenly changed
  • You’re locked out from running a jointly owned or managed business
  • Property is transferred into the names of family members
  • Your ex is suddenly investing in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which can be very hard to trace
  • Your ex suddenly changes their mind about the divorce and wants to ‘try again’ until their financial affairs are in order

What should I do if I think my ex is trying to hide assets before our divorce?

If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, you should tell your solicitor straight away. It’s important that you don’t try to investigate the situation yourself, for example, by opening your ex’s mail or hacking into their computer. These actions are against the law and you could end up with a criminal record. 

Once your solicitor is aware of the situation, there are various things they can do to find the hidden assets. They may be able to apply for a third-party disclosure order, for instance, which enables your solicitor to obtain documents from organisations like banks and HMRC. Or they may hire a forensic accountant to analyse your ex’s financial statements and raise questions about any inconsistencies. For example, someone who claims to be earning £40,000 will not be able to justify an expenditure over £100,000, unless they have taken out a huge debt or there is another source of income that has not been disclosed. 

Another option is to apply for a freezing order. This will stop your spouse from dealing with assets to protect them in the divorce. 

In respect of property, your solicitor will be able to make an application for a Homes Rights Notice to be placed on the former matrimonial home if the property is held in their sole name and apply for a Unilateral Notice or Restriction to be placed on any other properties held in your ex’s sole name.  

Penalty for hiding assets in divorce

The ultimate penalty for hiding assets in a divorce is imprisonment. However, if your ex fails to disclose financial information in a divorce, a few things could happen. If the divorce is ongoing, the court will order your ex to fully disclose their finances and assets and if they are found to be hiding money, the court may order that your ex pays your legal costs. Or they may make a financial order on the basis that a certain amount of money is available, despite what your ex has chosen to reveal.

If the case is already closed, the court has the power to reopen it, set aside the existing financial settlement, and have you renegotiate everything from scratch, either privately or through the courts. 

Ultimately, hiding assets in a divorce to deprive a spouse of their fair share is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment. If you are in any doubt about your ex’s disclosures, speak to your solicitor straight away. 

How we can help

Osbornes Law has a team of expert divorce lawyers in London who can discuss your particular circumstances and complete Form E on your behalf to ensure your case is best represented to the court.

We deal with both UK and international clients. If you are overseas or outside London, we have high-speed video conferencing facilities and a full online service to ensure you are kept up-to-date and fully appraised of your case and legal options.

Diana Bastow is a senior divorce lawyer at Osbornes. She has over twelve years of experience in advising clients in relation to divorce and financial disputes with an international element. Diana also acts for HNW individuals which have included offshore property, businesses and trusts. Diana is listed as a ‘rising star’ in the Legal 500 directory.

To speak with Diana call us or e-mail us using the form below and we will contact you back. 

Share this article

Contact

Contact us today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you






    Related InsightsVIEW ALL

    1. international map and money
      9.6.2023

      Will Dispute Case Law

      New Births And New Relationships? Review Your Will To Avoid A Dispute You’d imagine a wealthy businessman with assets...

      Read more
    2. diamond held by tweezers
      9.6.2023

      Proprietary Estoppel Case Law

      On A Lick And A Promise? The First Hurdle In Proprietary Estoppel Claims Solicitors are increasingly instructed by clients who...

      Read more
    3. new born baby
      9.6.2023

      Early Notification Scheme – is it helping or failing...

      What is the Early Notification Scheme? The NHS Early Notification Scheme (“ENS”) has reached its sixth anniversary. Established in April 2017,...

      Read more
    4. man cycling past London underground station
      6.6.2023

      London Cycling Injury Case Studies

      Successful claim by cyclist injured after a hit-and-run Our client had been playing volleyball in the New Cross area of...

      Read more
    5. 5.6.2023

      Are pharmacy closures putting patients at risk?

      It has been reported in the press that chemist closures will have an impact on patients living in deprived or...

      Read more
    6. lady holding a cup
      22.5.2023

      Case Law: Dementia-Induced Mild Cognitive Impairment

      Dementia is a harsh reality for increasing numbers of families. Sadly, it means the disputed wills solicitors at Osbornes Law...

      Read more
    7. House-Finsbury-Park
      19.5.2023

      Declaration of Trust for Property

      If you are buying a property jointly, you may want to consider making a declaration of trust to record your...

      Read more
    8. kensington apartments
      11.5.2023

      Lease Extension Negligence

      What is Lease Extension Negligence? Solicitors Negligence when a Tenant claims a new lease of a flat under the Leasehold...

      Read more
    9. tate modern london
      11.5.2023

      Overlooking Nuisance Claims

      Overlooking Nuisance Claims – net curtains not necessarily! I refer to the article https://law.wpstaging.uk/blog/overlooking-nuisance-claims-buy-some-net-curtains/ which concerned...

      Read more
    10. cars on portobello road
      11.5.2023

      Rent Repayment Order: Rakusen v Jepsen

      Rakusen v Jepsen & Others 2023 Judgement was given in this case on the 1st March 2023 and when it was settled...

      Read more
    11. 10.5.2023

      Leasehold Reform expected by end of 2023

      The government announced in 2021 the introduction of various leasehold reforms which will affect the leasehold system for properties in England...

      Read more
    12. cyclist in camden, london
      4.5.2023

      Cycling Accident Claims: Client Stories

      GP Awarded £1m Settlement Kate Milton, a Senior Associate at Osbornes Law settled a cycling accident claim for a 52-year-old...

      Read more
    13. eu flags
      26.4.2023

      German Court Rules on EU Succession Regulation

      Succession laws vary from country to country which historically made the administration of cross-border estates potentially complex. Since 17 August 2015, the...

      Read more
    14. Man is making audit of household expenses
      21.4.2023

      Success in Court of Appeal in child disability...

      The Court of Appeal has today handed judgment in the case of Harrington v Secretary of State for Work and...

      Read more
    15. osbornes law office
      17.4.2023

      Osbornes Law Welcomes New Head of International Children

      Osbornes Law is delighted to announce the arrival of Lauren Hall to the firm. Lauren Hall joins the family department...

      Read more
    16. forklift truck
      11.4.2023

      £250,000 settlement for client injured in forklift truck accident

      Sophie Davies, a specialist personal injury lawyer at Osbornes Law, recently represented a client who suffered life-changing injuries following a...

      Read more
    17. Confidential file
      11.4.2023

      Osbornes Instructed After Local Authority Data Breach

      Osbornes Law have recently negotiated a settlement on behalf of two clients who had their personal information inadvertently released to...

      Read more
    18. Accidente en almacén
      30.3.2023

      Accident at Work Client Stories

      £20,000 for Industrial Injury Claim Enviro-Strip (UK) Ltd have been ordered to pay £20,000 in accident at work compensation after a worker...

      Read more
    19. rainbow image
      29.3.2023

      Parenting Talk With Noël Janis-Norton

      Osbornes Law are delighted to be hosting internationally known parenting expert, Noël Janis-Norton, who will be delivering the talk:...

      Read more
    20. union jack
      23.3.2023

      Divorce Jurisdiction

      Is England/Wales the Right Jurisdiction for Your Divorce? When it comes to getting divorced, London has a lot of...

      Read more
    21. pregnant lady
      23.3.2023

      Private Pregnancy Scans and Substandard Care

      In the news, it has been reported that private clinics that offer pregnancy scans to women are not meeting the...

      Read more
    22. cohabitation agreement
      22.3.2023

      Cohabitation agreements

      Unmarried couples who live together do not have the same legal protection as married couples and civil partners when they...

      Read more
    23. two people walking
      22.3.2023

      Does it matter if you’re a breadwinner...

      When it comes to deciding how wealth is split, English courts do not discriminate based on your role within the...

      Read more
    24. lady with two children
      22.3.2023

      Parental Responsibility

      Understanding Parental Responsibility Parental responsibility is the legal term used to describe the duties and responsibilities that parents have for...

      Read more

    VIEW ALL

    • This team is perhaps best known for its children work, often involving complex international dynamics.

      Chambers UK

    • Osbornes is a strong family law firm with a number of particularly strong individuals. The lawyers work well as a team and have strong support for their clients.

      Legal 500 2022

    • "A good leader who is client-focused and thoroughly nice."

      Chambers UK 2022

    • "There’s a real sense of team ethic. It’s clear that internal communication and case recording are strong because if a solicitor handling a case is away the person covering is fully up to speed, has the necessary documents available to them and nothing falls through the cracks."

      Legal 500 2023

    • “Nicola was very helpful and supportive. Nicola was very good with explanations and maintaining contact once we got rolling. I felt she really knew the law and procedures involved. I’m aware of how hard she works and appreciate her commitment.”

      Client review