Hiding assets and not disclosing full details of wealth attracts serious penalties in the UK, including contempt of court, potential imprisonment and perjury. However; the penalties are rarely enforced, which results in many people hiding their marital wealth from their spouse, or civil partner, prior to launching divorce proceedings. The financially weaker party is then left with a huge dilemma – engage in divorce investigations or accept?

In addition to this, couples who are each the citizens of a different country have to resolve the issue as to which country the divorce should occur, which can be expensive and time consuming.

Out with the old, in with the new

As the UK has now left the EU, the existing laws will only remain until the end of this year. It is probably fair to say that the UK is one of the primary hubs for international families and HNW divorce cases. The current laws for divorce proceedings are contained within the EU Regulation, Brussels IIa, which has been defined as  “the heart of cross-border family law in the EU” by The Justice Committee, however; these laws will soon be history.

Under the new rules, filing the claim first will no longer define the jurisdiction in which the divorce will take place. The petitioner will need to now show a closer connection to the UK than other countries in which the family may have been living.

Since the UK courts are more favourable to the financially weaker party than other courts in the EU, the UK will remain an appealing location for divorce proceedings. However; this is sometimes why the assets are hidden in offshore jurisdictions, and out of reach of the other party. Thus, divorce investigations & subsequent disclosure is probably one of the most important stages in obtaining a fair financial settlement.

Divorce investigations and disclosure

The family courts expect all financial circumstances to be disclosed and they have substantial powers in regard to assets held in other jurisdictions. Unfortunately, and as well documented, ‘nearly a quarter of divorcees hide financial assets’ and the financially weaker party regularly loses out.

Fighting for a successful Matrimonial Order (Order) can take years. In that period, the spouse has enough time to conceal assets through transfers, placing the possessions in offshore company structures, or liquidising them, in order to use the funds to purchase new assets. This makes enforcing the Order extremely complex and the rights and benefits secured under the Order become practically meaningless if they cannot be enforced.

What will happen to the cross-border assets?

When a relationship breaks down, there is a wide range of various financial matters that need to be considered, especially if there is a doubt over the disclosure of assets and suspicion that assets might be hidden in other jurisdictions.

It is important that investigators are engaged at the earliest stage of divorce proceedings, so that a coherent and phased strategy can be put in place to save time and money. Specialist firms, such as Matrix Intelligence, have multi-jurisdictional asset tracing experience, where local knowledge is crucial in gaining fast and reliable results for the quantification of assets and financial profiling of the spouse. The combined methodology of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and Human Source Intelligence (HUMINT) can lead to identifying missing, hidden or previously unknown assets.

The outcome of this combined methodology is a balanced and highly-effective approach that enables clients to have access to high-level, strategically-actionable intelligence and information that helps them negotiate a higher settlement than what they had been initially offered.

However; if a settlement cannot be obtained through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), or out-of-court settlement, the expert asset report will assist the interested party at the enforcement stage of the proceedings, which can be actioned without any delays.

About Matrix Intelligence & Divorce Investigations

Matrix Intelligence has substantial experience and a proven track record of Asset Tracing globally. We deliver reliable and actionable intelligence to lawyers, financial firms, corporate clients, third party funders and HNW individuals. While operating internationally, we have exceptional capabilities in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and throughout the world´s offshore banking jurisdictions.

Please contact us with any queries regarding divorce investigations.