My spouse has hidden assets what can I do

06 December 2023

A person leaving a marriage can feel anxious about the impact that the separation and divorce process will have on them and they may be worried about how it will be possible to disentangle themselves from the marriage both emotionally and financially.

For some spouses, this anxiety can be further compounded by not having a great knowledge of what the full marital assets are.  It is not unusual in a marriage for one spouse, normally the main breadwinner, to take control of the finances throughout the marriage – often this is a decision that is made by agreement with one spouse claiming to be more financially astute than the other and the other spouse may be focusing on other matters such as the children.  When a marriage breaks down, this imbalance of knowledge can often leave one spouse feeling in the dark about the true nature of the marital finances and this can lead to worries or concerns around assets being hidden from sight so that they are not accounted for in an overall matrimonial settlement.

Let’s take Carol’s case as an example.

Carol and Richard were married for 20 years, throughout which time they had two children, now teenagers. The marriage was not without its rocky patches with many arguments stemming from the fact that Richard worked long hours growing his property development business while Carol was left at home raising their children.  Throughout the years Carol had tried to become more involved with the business though Richard would tell her that she didn’t have a head for numbers, that she should leave the business side of things to him and that she was best placed looking after the children. All in all, Carol was very much in the dark as to how successful the business was though they did lead a very comfortable lifestyle and so she knew that it was doing well.

Carol discovered that Richard had been having an affair six months ago.  They tried to work at the marriage for the sake of the children, but the trust had gone and they separated.  In recent weeks, Carol discovered paperwork in the home office detailing various transfers of business properties to third parties.  She has tried to confront Richard about this, but he has been ignoring her calls. She is very worried that Richard is trying to hide or reduce matrimonial assets. What can she do?

Upon separation and during divorce proceedings, a spouse is not permitted to take any action to hide or minimise marital assets in an attempt to frustrate the other spouse’s claim over these assets.  If a person has concerns that their spouse is deliberately hiding assets from the matrimonial pot, they may be able to issue injunctive proceedings to prevent this from happening. 

Injunctive Orders of this nature can be dealt with by the Court on an emergency basis and are not just limited to assets in the UK but can relate to assets worldwide.  There are strict principles and guidelines which are set out in the law to govern the granting of injunctive relief and so it is important to seek legal advice immediately if you have concerns about your estranged spouse hiding assets. 

At Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors, we can assist you in obtaining any emergency injunctive protection that you may need from the Court at short notice if you have concerns that your spouse is dissipating assets.   Please contact Claire Edgar on or call us on 028 9024 3901 for a free, no obligation discussion.