Caroline Swain, Partner, Matrimonial and Family Law provides a guide on how to protect your assets if you are facing a divorce.

If you are getting a divorce or ending a civil partnership, particularly an acrimonious one, you will need to act fast to ensure your assets are protected. Here’s a helpful guide to ensure you know how to protect your assets when you’re going through a divorce.

Property

If your home is owned in your spouse’s sole name, you can register your interest in the home to make sure it can’t be remortgaged or sold without your knowledge.

If your spouse owns property which is not the family home, you may be able to register a ‘restriction’ at the Land Registry. This is particularly useful if you’re going through a hostile divorce, in which you think your partner may try to sell the property or secure debt against it.

If the property is held in joint names with your spouse as “joint tenants”, you may want to change the way it’s owned. By changing how it is owned you can prevent ownership transferring to your spouse in full should you die before the divorce, or before the dissolution has been finalised.

Businesses

If you feel like your marriage may be breaking down, make sure you do not transfer assets out of the business, as this will be seen as a strategic move and be detrimental to you. In family court, you’re required by law to make full financial disclosure prior to your divorce settlement. If you’re caught out trying to transfer assets, it could be considered as an attempt to avoid your spouse’s financial claims. The Family Court will not look kindly on this, and you could be held accountable of litigation misconduct. By going through the divorce process legally and fairly, you are in with a much greater chance of achieving a fair and sensible settlement.

Pensions

Do your homework –  Find out exactly what type of pension(s) you have, and what the laws pertaining to these are. You should make enquiries as to the CETV for each of your pensions at an early stage as it can take many weeks for pension providers to provide this information. It might be useful to get some professional help from a pension advisor if you have one.

What to do if a spouse tries to hide assets

Courts have great powers available to ensure that there is full financial disclosure in every case. If one or both of the parties to a divorce are found to be hiding assets, they can penalised by being ordered to pay the other side’s legal costs.

If it comes to light that all assets were not disclosed, the case can be reopened and a different order can be made. Equally, courts have the power to get assets back after they have been transferred, should the need arise.

If you’d like to find out more about how to protect your assets during a divorce and the options available to you then you can get in touch with Caroline at caroline.swain@bpsfamilylaw.co.uk or by telephone on 0161 926 1430.