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Why hiding assets during divorce could cost you more than just money

Photo by Zoriana Stakhniv on Unsplash

Hiding assets from your spouse may be tempting when you are getting divorced, but lawyers have warned you risk ‘doing a Boris Becker’ and landing yourself in serious trouble if you do.

At worst, individuals who lie to the court in divorce cases could face jail. At best, they will face legal costs in the thousands and are likely to lose a large percentage of the matrimonial estate. Further, the court will not always need proof of assets being hidden in order to act.

Stuart Ruff, family law partner at South London and Kent law firm Thackray Williams, said: “As the case of Boris Becker showed, concealing assets and lying to the court is fraught with danger and can land you in jail. While it is rare to get a prison sentence for hiding assets in divorce cases, it does end up costing those who try it thousands of pounds more even if they are only suspected and not proven to be hiding assets.

“People who are considering concealing assets need to realise that they are extremely unlikely to be original enough or be clever enough to come up with something the courts haven’t seen before. Once the court thinks an individual may be hiding something they are on a hiding to nothing.”

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker was jailed for two and a half years last month for hiding assets after his bankruptcy.

In divorce financial hearings a judge has the power to find against an individual if they believe the individual has hidden assets.

Stuart adds: “The moment the other side or the judge gets a sniff that an individual may be concealing assets the suspected individual will be facing questions for months and it will cost them thousands of pounds in legal fees. In cases where the judge believes an individual has undeclared assets, they have the power to assume that the individual has those assets and make orders on that basis. It is far easier and cheaper if people come clean at the outset.

“We have seen people try to hide all sorts of things, from redundancy pay outs by putting them in a relative’s bank account to properties. In all of these cases the individual’s hiding of assets was discovered and the judge then doubted their credibility on other evidence and ordered a less favourable settlement than they may have done otherwise plus they had to pay a portion of their partners’ legal fees.”

The latest way individuals have been trying to conceal assets is through crypto currency.

Stuart adds: “As crypto currency is a relatively new type of asset we are seeing cases where individuals have tried to conceal these. But while it is more difficult to track down it is not impossible. As a result, the advice is always to be open and honest from the outset as this will save you money in the long run.”

 

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