As part of the divorce process when financial matters are an issue, both the husband and wife provide each other with ‘full and frank disclosure’.
The thinking behind this is logical; only when it can be seen what is in the ‘pot’ can a fair and equitable settlement be negotiated.
There is no doubt that some parties attempt to hide assets following the breakdown of their marriage. This is a dangerous strategy.
The court does have the power to adjust its award to penalise the offending party if such behaviour comes to light, but more significantly the court could decide to impose a prison sentence. Instances of this have been quite rare but recently there have been two such cases where the courts have done just that – and imprisoned the person hiding their assets to prevent their spouse’s claim being successful. In one case the husband received a two year custodial sentence.
It remains to be seen whether this signifies a broader toughening up by the justice system on attempts by one spouse to mislead the court in divorce matters, but this is certainly an area to watch with interest.