Q: My husband and I have discussed divorcing for two years. Every time I think we have an amicable agreement he wants to ‘patch things up’. His ‘patching up’ efforts consist of buying me expensive presents and going on business trips to avoid further arguments. I think he is just stringing things out to give him time to reduce his assets and my pay-out.
We married 32 years ago and have three adult children. I have never worked. My role has been supporting my husband in his high-flying business world and bringing up the children. What steps can I take to prevent him asset-stripping?
A: It is sometimes possible for a spouse who thinks their partner may be trying to hide their assets prior to a high net worth divorce, to take out a freezing order. Also known as a Mareva Injunction or a Section 37 Injunction, a freezing order can be used to freeze a spouse’s bank accounts, shares, property/investments, and land. It applies to assets in the UK and abroad. However, the Courts impose stringent requirements on spouses seeking such orders to preserve assets where it can be proven a spouse is deliberately trying to defeat their claim, so having good evidence to support a freezing order application is essential.
As well as the court having powers to restrain a spouse from disposing of or dealing with an asset until say the divorce, the court can ‘add back’ these funds to the combined total of matrimonial assets in a settlement for distribution. If the cash has already been spent, a spouse could end up receiving a smaller share of the remaining assets in the settlement to reflect this, but it very much depends on the specific facts of the case.
Your first course of action should be to make an appointment with a divorce solicitor experienced in handling high net worth cases.
This question has been answered by Alison Peters, a Partner with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194