Monday, March 05, 2012

How to show your spouse is hiding assets

When divorcing it is no longer possible to follow the self help route and obtain the other parties documents to show that they have more money than they are admitting too.  The change has been called a "cheats charter" but what is left for the less wealthy spouse if she knows her husband is hiding his wealth to defeat her claim - and it is usually a she?.

In a recent court of appeal case (NG v SG [2011] EWCH 3270 (Fam), [2011] All ER (D) 180 (Dec)) the judge set out an 8 point check list for the court to follow in determining whether assets have been hidden.

1. The court is duty bound by the use of adverse inferences to consider whether assets have been hidden.

2. The inferences must be reasonable based on an assessment of the evidence.

3. If a court concludes that assets have been hidden then the court must attempt to quantify those hidden funds.

4. In doing this the court will first consider direct evidence - documents and details given by the other party.

5. The court then considers the scale of the business and the lifestyle enjoyed.

6. Allegations as to reputation and opinions of third parties will be ignored.

7. The technique from a previous case of concluding that the assets were double those revealed should not be the only measure used.

8. The non discloser should not benefit from his actions - therefore it is better to make an order that is unfair to him than the other party.

Speculation, rumour, conviction of the other spouse which can verge on obsession are all to be ignored.  The court will rely on evidence.  If you have none there there is an uphill struggle to get the court to assist you in making adverse inferences.  Yet again it is down to Judicial discretion as to whose argument is more persuasive...

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