Divorce – Disclosing Assets
In divorce proceedings, the parties are obliged to disclose what assets they own and what income or inheritance they might have received in the three years preceding their separation. If a party is caught hiding any assets or being untruthful in disclosure of their wealth, it will prejudice their case and will undermine their integrity. Therefore, in divorce proceedings, full disclosure is required.
The full disclosure rule is required to assist the court in deciding on a fair financial settlement between the parties.
Hidden Assets in Divorce
Once divorce proceedings are finalised and a financial settlement has been determined, it may become apparent that one party had been hiding assets. This does happen, as some people conceal significant assets, with the aim of reducing the award of the court. These findings may be uncovered several years after the divorce.
Where a court determines that a party has deliberately concealed assets in their disclosure of their assets, the court will intervene and make a ruling. Where the element of trust has clearly been broken, the court can make a finding on the balance of probabilities against the non-disclosing party and order a larger portion of their assets to be awarded to the other party. Excuses of a ‘simple error’ are unlikely to influence a judge. Any prior goodwill with the court will be severed by the offending party and the court, at its discretion, could impose an order of costs against the offending party as well as taking away portion of such undisclosed assets.
In such cases, where one party has successfully hidden assets from the court, but this fact only emerged later, the case can be brought back to court for a judge to make a revised ruling. Leniency cannot be expected in such circumstances.