Putting assets overseas

An increasingly common issue in divorce proceedings is one party transferring assets abroad, in an attempt to defeat the other party’s financial claims. But is this a good idea, and what can the court do about it?

The first thing to say is that the English court can make orders relating to overseas assets, in the same way as it can make orders relating to assets held in this country.

However, there can be problems with assets held abroad.

Firstly, it can be difficult tracing and valuing the assets. It may therefore be necessary to instruct experts in the country to which the assets have been transferred, and this can obviously add to the expense.

The other problem is enforcing any order made relating to foreign assets in the country to which they have been transferred. It is a matter for the courts in that country whether to enforce an English court order, and there is nothing that the English court can do to force the foreign court to take enforcement action.

In order to avoid the problem of enforcement the English court will often award a greater share of any assets remaining in this country to the other spouse. It should also be said that the English court will take an extremely dim view of any party attempting to thwart the will of the court by moving assets abroad, and doing so may therefore seriously damage that party’s case.

If the assets have not yet been transferred abroad then the court can make orders freezing the assets to prevent them from being transferred.

If you believe that your spouse may have transferred assets abroad to defeat your claim, or that they are intending to do so, then you should seek specialist legal advice immediately. Family Law Café can help you find this – to contact us click the Contact link above and fill in the form, or call us on 0208 768 2278.

Image: travel by fdecomite, licensed under CC BY 2.0.