Do I have to disclose all of my assets as part of my divorce? James Ferguson, partner and head of family law at Boodle Hatfield, and Katie Male, associate, look at the details.
The short answer is, yes.
Before the Family Court will approve a financial order setting out who gets what on a divorce, it must be satisfied that both spouses have complied with their mandatory duty to give full and frank disclosure of their financial and other relevant circumstances to each other and to the Court. This will include disclosure not only of any assets that you legally own, but also those in which you have a beneficial interest or of which you otherwise enjoy the use.
The penalties for non-disclosure can be severe. Where there is evidence to suggest that a party has deliberately or recklessly withheld information, at the very least the Court may draw adverse inferences against them while proceedings are ongoing. In more extreme cases, that party could find themselves with a previous order being set aside or even criminal proceedings being brought against them.
Do I have to disclose foreign bank accounts as part of my divorce?
Yes, the duty of full and frank disclosure extends to assets and income held or received in any jurisdiction.
If I move all my assets offshore, will this protect them on a divorce?
It doesn't matter where the asset is located - its existence (and its value) must still be disclosed and, in all probability, it will have a bearing on the terms of any financial settlement or order.
In any event, it is not advisable to attempt to move your assets or alter the ownership thereof in the period leading up to a divorce as this could be interpreted by the Court as an attempt to defeat your spouse's claims, for which you could be heavily penalised. As part of financial remedy proceedings, you will be expected as a minimum to disclose the last 12 months' worth of bank statements for your worldwide bank accounts, which would reveal any last-minute attempts to rearrange your affairs.