How to protect money from divorce proceedings
There are many things to consider in a divorce agreement and your finances are just one of these topics. We often find that there are many questions about financial matters in divorce and below is a selection of what we have received. If your divorce settlement money query is not listed below, please contact our family law team and we will be happy to help.
Do you have to split assets in a divorce?
UK law has to be flexible as there will usually be a need to apply specific splits to each divorce case and as such there are no set rules dealing with the splitting of assets in divorces.
UK Courts have wide discretion in deciding who gets what in a divorce settlement. There will not necessarily be a 50/50 split of the assets in every case and an equal division of assets may be appropriate in some cases but not others.
How to protect money from divorce?
Different financial elements require different actions and considerations to protect your money from divorce. For example:
Joint bank accounts
- Change the way the account has been set up, i.e so you both have to agree to any withdrawals or overdraft increases
- Make sure that your wages or benefits go into an account just in your name in future.
- Ask your bank to suspend telephone and online banking on any joint account.
- Agree on how bills that are currently being paid from your joint account will be covered. It might be that you agree to continue paying certain bills – for example, rent or mortgages.
- As a last resort, freeze the account if you’re worried that your ex-partner will withdraw money. One of you can ask the bank to freeze an account, but both of you usually have to sign a letter to say you want it ‘un-frozen’.
- Close the account, if you don’t have much money in it or you won’t use it in the future. Both of you have to agree – usually in writing – to close a joint account. You won’t be able to do this until any overdraft has been paid off.
- In England – money in a joint account belongs to the person who paid it in. however there are cases where a partner who hasn’t made a contribution can make a claim for a share of it, for instance, if the account has been set up for a specific shared fund.
- In Northern Ireland – money in a joint savings account belongs to each of you equally unless a court decides otherwise.
- In Scotland – accounts opened during a relationship will be shared equally, unless one party can prove they paid in more money than the other.
Credit & Store accounts
- If the account is in your name, you are legally obliged to cover any expenditure – even if your former partner uses a card on your account. It is advised to ask for the card back or request the card/account be closed with the lender.
- If you have a joint policy in both names, it is likely that a letter of agreement to remove one of the parties will be needed.
- If you have a single policy with your former partner named on it (as a named driver on your car insurance for instance), then you will need to contact your supplier to remove them.
Household and other bills
- One person should take over the account if the account is in both names. This can be done by contacting your supplier.
- If you want to take over a bill that is in your ex-partner’s name, the old account will have to be closed and a new one set up in your name.
It is usually best if you can negotiate settlements prior to the divorce proceedings beginning.
What are my financial rights in a divorce?
Generally, there are no automatic rights when completing a divorce. As each case is unique, before finalising settlements, courts will look at a number of things including:
- each partner’s needs, assets and ability to earn income
- the standard of living before the break up of the marriage
- how long you have been married and your age
- any special needs or disabilities
- the contributions each spouse made to the marriage (not just financial but looking after children for instance).
It’s important to note that divorces won’t entirely cut your financial ties with an ex unless you request a notice of disassociation from the credit reference agencies. A notice of disassociation can only be applied for after the matrimonial assets have been split and transferred into sole names. This notice will break any link between your credit and your former partner’s – meaning any future debt on cards or accounts will not impact your credit score.
What are my financial rights in a divorce?
Matrimonial assets are financial assets acquired during a martial and typically include things such as:
- Property, including
- Property abroad
- property purchased before the date of the marriage if used as the family home
- Investments and shares
- Classic automobiles
- Art and antiques
There are personal items that will also be taken into consideration. So, what is considered personal property in a divorce?
- Music and book collections
- Digital assets – e.g downloaded movies
With regards to personal items, UK law says that, in general-
- Whoever bought the item, owns the item
- If it was a present, the recipient keeps it – including engagement and wedding rings
- If it was a shared purchase, it’s shared ownership. One partner can buy the other out to gain full ownership.
In addition to matrimonial assets, there are non-matrimonial assets. These are financial assets acquired either before or after you got married, and usually include things like inheritance, family businesses and property purchased as a single person.
What are the consequences of hiding assets in a divorce?
Hiding, selling or transferring assets, depriving a spouse of a fair share in divorce, and deceiving the court, is a fraud which is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.
If you think that your ex-partner is trying to hide assets from you, there are some steps you can take below. Our divorce solicitors can help you with these steps.
- Ask your solicitor for an order for non-party disclosure
- Request a search order
- Apply for a freezing order
- Request an Avoidance of Disposition Order
- Seek to add back of any finances back into the divorce settlement money pot
How Henry Hyams divorce lawyers can help you
Our divorce lawyers are one of the top family law firms in Leeds and have the experience and expertise to guide you through protecting your assets through a divorce that you are currently in or about to begin.
One of our fixed-fee divorce Leeds lawyers can talk you through the legal process, costs involved, and answer any questions you may have about divorces. Please contact our Leeds family law solicitors on the email below or contact us on 0113 2432288 for more information.
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