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How can I hide my money in a divorce?

The answer is that you cannot hide your money when divorcing or dissolving a civil partnership from your partner. 

Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich is back in the High Court accused by his ex wife of hiding his assets at the centre of a £453 million pound divorce. Roman, a gas and oil Russian oligarch, is accused of using complex financial systems to keep money to himself and of hiding a £350 million superyacht.

Few have this wealth and the ability to pay to hide their assets on such a sophisticated scale. So what can happen if you hide your money when divorcing?

  • If you tell your solicitor you are hiding money, your solicitor has a duty not to allow you to mislead the Court. This means that your solicitor must stop acting for you. Your solicitor cannot help you hide your money. 
  • If you are determined to hide your money, you need to be prepared for a heavy legal bill.  The Court can decide that you have behaved in such a way that you should pay not only your own legal costs, but also your ex’s legal costs. 
  • If you try and hide your money e.g. by giving it away or otherwise making investments which appear “bad”, you will be ordered to produce bank statements and details of investments and gifts. The Court can add this money back into the matrimonial pot before deciding how to divide it up.
  • If you have properties or business assets and decide that you will underestimate the value for the Court, the Court is likely to order a valuation by a single valuer appointed by you and your ex so that you are both stuck with the outcome.
  • If you manage to hide your wealth on paper but then have a lifestyle that neither you nor your new partner can possibly afford, the Judge can just make his or her own decisions about what your wealth is. You have wealth from somewhere.
  • If you decide to go on a massive spending spree, the Court can then decide you have spent money to prevent your ex getting their hands on it. The Court can again add this money back into the matrimonial pot before it decides how to divide it up.
  • If you transfer your investment portfolio of properties to third parties, the Court can question your motive for doing so and can “set aside” the property transactions providing no one (other than you) will lose out financially having acted in good faith.
  • If you decide you are not going to pay even if the Judge orders it, the Judge can freeze your assets and payment can be taken from them and you can be ordered to pay your ex’s legal costs of this.

There is a duty of full and frank disclosure in financial proceedings ancillary to a divorce and this continues throughout the proceedings. This means that you have to produce documentation in some detail confirming your financial position in terms of income, capital and pensions.

If you’d like to speak to a member of the Family Law team about any of the issues outlined above, please call 0113 201 4902 or email family.law@emsleys.co.uk.

Gabbie  Clasper

Written by

Gabbie Clasper

Head of Family Law

Gabbie has over 20 years’ experience in family law. She has expert knowledge in complex issues including financial aspects following divorce; pre and post-nuptial agreements; cases with an international element; and civil partnerships. Gabbie is regularly instructed by clients based across the country and abroad. She...

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