The overriding rule in matrimonial finances is for the husband and the wife to give full and frank disclosure of their assets. However, time and time again there are reported cases of spouses who try to avoid financial claims against them by disposing of or hiding matrimonial assets or just flatly refusing to provide disclosure. The law takes a dim view of this sort of behaviour.
Section 37 of the Court Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 enables the Court to order an injunction to prevent a spouse disposing of matrimonial assets and can even order the return of assets that have already been disposed of.
In the recent case of Akhnedova –v- Akhnedova the Court demonstrated that it also had the power to order the parties’ son to hand over all his electronic devices because the son had helped his father dispose of assets in order to put them out of reach of his mother.
Spouses should not therefore try to conceal marital assets as they may incur the wrath of the Court.
Spouses should be prepared to give full and frank disclosure and lay all their cards on the table.
Remember that disclosing each party’s marital assets is only the first stage of the process.
The assets have to be carefully considered in the light of the factors of the case such as the children of the marriage first and foremost, then the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, the parties’ income and assets, their respective needs, the parties’ standard of living, whether any party has a disability and whether any party has a pension.
Ultimately, it is for the Court to decide how those assets should be fairly divided between the husband and the wife.
At Maxwell Hodge we can provide expert advice on division of marital assets.