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Hiding money from your partner

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The divorce team at OTS Solicitors weren’t surprised by the results of a recent Money and Pensions Service survey on hiding money from loved ones. Nearly forty percent of the people who took part in the survey said that they had kept money secrets from their husband, wife or partner. If you are separating or divorcing then there are special rules on financial disclosure and hiding money from a partner. In this article we look at the results of the Money and Pensions Service survey and the impact of hiding money from your partner during a separation or divorce.

Online divorce and financial settlement solicitors

As online London based family law solicitors the expert team of specialist divorce lawyers at OTS Solicitors can advise on your separation and best financial settlement options. For divorce, financial settlement or family law advice call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form  to arrange a Skype, video conference or telephone appointment.

The Money & Pensions Service survey

The Money and Pensions Service survey was conducted with a survey pool of 5,200 people across England. The main points from the survey are:

  • Almost twenty five percent of the people surveyed thought their partner had hidden financial matters but in the region of half said they had hidden things
  • It is the younger age group (age 25-34 ) who hide things the most
  • It isn’t just money that is hidden, the existence of credit cards, credit card debt and loans are also hidden
  • About twenty percent of the people who responded to the survey had a savings account that their partner wasn’t aware of.

Why do people hide money?

There are many reasons why people hide money whilst in a relationship with a husband, wife or partner. A classic example is the partner who is financially controlled and in an abusive relationship with their spouse and who feels the need to hide money as an escape fund. That way they can leave the family home with enough saved up for a rent deposit and to see them through the first few months. Divorce solicitors say that if you are in that position it is best to take some legal advice as you may be able to obtain a non-molestation injunction order or an order excluding your spouse from the family home as well as financial help, such as child support and spousal maintenance.

Another reason people hide money is because they are planning to separate or divorce from their partner and they realise that they will have to share the family wealth with their husband or wife. This can lead to them opening up secret bank accounts, transferring money overseas or buying assets or investments in the name of a family member.

Often it isn’t money that a partner is hiding but debt. The debts, in the form of loans or credit cards, could have been incurred before or during the relationship and either not disclosed because of embarrassment or pride. Divorce solicitorssay that one of the most common reasons for the start of divorce proceedings is financial worries resulting in family arguments or a concern that a partner doesn’t trust them to handle the family finances or wants to exert financial control rather than share the financial responsibility with them.

Can you hide money after a separation or divorce?

The short answer to the question ‘can I hide money after a separation or divorce?’ is that it all depends on the status of your relationship. If you are in an unmarried relationship your partner can't claim a share of your savings if they are held in your sole name unless they can say that they have a beneficial interest in the savings because you promised them a share or that the money was held in trust for them. That normally isn’t the case and therefore if you have savings or debt in your sole name and you were in an unmarried relationship the money or debt isn’t relevant to your partner. However, your partner may be able to claim a share of your property, even if it is owned in your sole name, if they can claim a beneficial interest. That’s why it can be best to take legal advice after a separation from a cohabitee or unmarried partner.

If you are married or in a civil partnership then in financial negotiations and financial court proceedings you are both under a duty to provide full financial disclosure. That includes all assets, such as a hidden bank account that you have funded from your salary or money given to you as lifetime gifts by your parents or a lottery win. If disclosure is made you can then argue that the money isn’t family money because it was kept separate or because of the source of the funds, for example, an inheritance.

If you don’t disclose all your assets when you are getting divorced and you reach a financial settlement then your husband or wife could ask the court to reopen the financial court order because you hadn’t made full financial disclosure during the negotiations or financial proceedings. If the non-disclosure comes to light during the court proceedings the court could penalise you in a cost order or make an order that isn’t as favourable as you would have received had you given full financial disclosure.

In many cases assets are given to a husband or wife by a family member to ‘hold’. For example, a house is transferred to a daughter because of worries about care home fees or money is given as a lifetime gift to reduce inheritance tax. Whatever the reason for the gift or transfer it is important to disclose it and then argue about its relevance to the division of family assets.

Most people assume that once they are divorced and they have their decree absolute of divorce they will never have to disclose anything to their husband or wife again. However, there is a risk that you will have to give full financial disclosure if you don’t secure a financial clean break order. A clean break financial court order severs all future financial links between a husband and wife or civil partner. If you don’t secure a clean break order (for example because you don’t get a financial court order or there are ongoing financial ties in the court order such as spousal maintenance) then you could be ordered to provide full financial disclosure in any subsequent financial court proceedings or application to vary the spousal maintenance order.

If you are in any doubt about financial disclosure obligations it is best to take legal advice from a specialist divorce and financial settlement solicitor on what your legal obligations are and what the implications for you would be if you hide money from your partner during your separation or divorce.

Online divorce and financial settlement solicitors

The specialist family lawyers at OTS Solicitors have experience in working remotely using the latest secure technology to secure financial settlements by negotiation, financial court proceedings, mediation or arbitration. If you need help with a separation or divorce  or advice on any other aspect of family law call London based OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. We will set up a video conference, Skype or telephone appointment for you with a friendly and experienced family law solicitor.

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