Protecting your assets
Sometimes during or following a relationship breakdown one party will try to hide or dispose of their assets in an attempt to minimise the resources available to them for sharing on a financial settlement.
If you think this might be happening and you’ve already started financial proceedings, you can apply to the courts to prevent and recover the disposal of assets. However, the courts will need sufficient evidence that a disposal has happened or likely to happen and that an order is necessary. A vague suspicion is not enough.
If the court is satisfied that your ex-partner is intending to deal with their assets in such a way so as to defeat your claim for financial relief (by hiding or disposing of his/her assets) the court has the power to make such an order as it thinks fit in order to restrain them from doing so. Secondly, the court also has the power to set aside dispositions which have already been made where, if the disposition was set aside, different financial relief would be granted.
It may also be possible, within the court’s inherent civil powers, to apply for a freezing order to restrain a party from disposing of or dealing with his/her assets. The usual purpose of a freezing order is to preserve a party’s assets until an outcome of a financial remedy application has been reached. The resulting judgment can then be enforced against the assets that have been frozen, e.g. against funds held in a frozen off-shore bank account. Freezing orders can be obtained against assets both within the jurisdiction of England and Wales (a domestic freezing order), or against assets situated outside the jurisdiction (a worldwide freezing order – Mareva injunction).
Applications such as these are by their very nature, almost always made in an emergency and without notice to the other party against who you are seeking the order. They are invariably expensive. Our specialist team of family lawyers is experienced in dealing with emergency applications and well equipped to guide you through the process and ensure that you achieve value for money. For example, there may be alternative and more practical measures which can be taken to achieve the same result at a fraction of the cost. In other more complicated cases these is not possible and freezing orders are the only means of maintaining the status quo.