More than half (53%) of people think that others would
hide the true extent of their savings and assets in
anticipation of a divorce. Even more (63%) think people
would do this during a divorce.
Tellingly, when we asked our sample if they themselves would
hide assets from a partner if they thought they would not be
caught, nearly one-third of people said that they would.
When relationships break down, people can be so intent on
securing their own financial future, or punishing their ex, that
they do not play fair financially.
The cases that make the headlines tend to be individuals or
families with millions to play with, but our data highlights that
this sort of behavior is very much mainstream. While the press is
often keen to treat men as the villain of the piece when it comes
to financial disclosure, interestingly the survey data reflects
that hiding assets is something both men and women are equally
likely to consider.
What's the legal position?
In a divorce settlement, you are obliged to reveal your full
financial position: everything from income, business assets,
pension, savings and ISAs through to debts and credit card
Many people are not aware that obscuring the true extent of
wealth or assets during a divorce can be treated as 'contempt
of Court' and can result in stringent fines or imprisonment for
a maximum of 2 years albeit- in reality the latter is rarely used
in the civil Courts. The other penalty a Court can impose for
non-disclosure is an order to pay your ex-partner's legal
costs, which could run to tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Additionally, there are proposals currently being considered that
would see those failing to comply with financial orders
imposed by the Court being banned from driving or travelling
Although the weight of the law is behind you if you feel that
your ex-partner is not playing fair, any good solicitor will advise
that it is usually better for all parties if a settlement can be
reached without going to Court. Taking a conciliatory approach will
often achieve a quicker, significantly cheaper and usually less
Many couples resolve financial issues using mediation, although
we would always advise taking legal advice pre-mediation and while
ongoing, just to ensure you are clear on your legal position and
don't waste money mediating an unenforceable or prejudicial
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The well documented case of Heather Ilott and her attempt to overturn her Mother's will appears to have come to an end with the Supreme Court ruling that, whilst she may have be granted some money from her Mother's estate, it is a far smaller sum than the Court of Appeal awarded.
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