In the news recently has been the story of the son of a Russian billionaire who helped his father hide millions of pounds from his mother after a divorce settlement.
It seems that, rather than pay the divorce settlement amount (thought to be the biggest UK divorce settlement in history), Mr Akhmedov preferred the option of transferring his super yacht and art collection into the ownership of Trust Liechtenstein, whilst also creating a network of companies used to hide his wealth.
In Scotland, the general presumption in negotiating divorce settlements is that there will be an aspect of goodwill, with most people voluntarily providing and exchanging all relevant financial information. This involves both parties providing a note of all assets and liabilities in existence at the date of separation, to then establish what a fair settlement would be. As part of the disclosure exercise, we would normally see things like bank statements, pension valuations, property valuations and generally all evidence showing the value of an asset or a liability as at the date of separation.
Of course, with the best will in the world, not everyone operates within the spirit of goodwill. Where there is an indication that someone is concealing or not fully disclosing their assets, there are other options available.
If there are grounds to believe that certain assets exist that have not been mentioned, or you get only some but not all financial information to show the true value of an asset or liability, a Court Order (known as an Order for Specification of Documents) can be obtained. This would then be served on a person to get them to provide information. The same Court Order can also be sent to different financial institutions for them to disclose what information they hold on behalf of a person or persons, on cause shown.
A further Court Order that can be sought in Scottish divorce cases (known as a Section 20 Order) requires the individual to list all resources available to them at the time.
There are also remedies available under family law legislation where someone has deliberately “dissipated” matrimonial funds to try to defeat their spouse’s claim. Recourse is available to the Courts to remedy that wrong by crediting the other spouse with a greater share of the overall matrimonial property in order to achieve overall fairness. On occasion, transactions can also be set aside if the court believes they have been set up deliberately to defeat a spouse’s claim.
Family lawyers can often turn detective in looking into the trail of missing or hidden assets, with our experience extending to offshore accounts, complicated corporate structures to conceal true wealth, or more unusual assets such as horses. The law provides remedies that can be used to try and ensure that what is lost is found.
How can we help?
At MacRoberts, our family lawyers are highly regarded for their specialist expertise and extensive experience in dealing with the various issues surrounding divorce on a daily basis. Looking at all available options to achieve resolution, we are not just limited to the courts and litigation.
To provide you with immediate reassurance and to understand your current situation, we offer a 15-minute consultation at no cost. If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances with our team, please do not hesitate to contact us.